Walking out of the door and into the Pembroke yard, I feel the warmth of the sun pouring down on me and I admire the old brick buildings, perfectly manicured lawns, the beautiful gardens, and the intricate stained glass adorning the chapel and the library.
I see a spire pointing towards the sky, cold grey stone, intricate carvings, warm brown pews, offerings of glowing candles, statues of our Mother, multi-colored stained glass, and the crucifix as a reminder of His sacrifice; I hear hopeful prayers and songs of praise: this is home.
I can hear her before I can see her—a voice singing a song that I know but cannot remember–a talented musician serenading the street full of people that are too busy to slow down, pause, and listen; she is dreaming and hoping for more.
Chairs are all facing in one direction, flags from all over the world are hanging from the ceiling, and the din of conversation is punctuated intermittently by cheers for the athletes on the television; this is my London 2012.
What I could buy at the market: Olives, bread, clothes, coffee beans, loose-leaf tea, cut flowers, jewellery, t-shirts, scarves, Thai food, bikes, books, dried fruit, nuts, candy, frozen yogurt, belts, hair accessories, bags, key chains, souvenirs, produce, watches, records, smoothies, sausage, artwork, fish, chimney cakes, tarot cards, fortune telling, cheese, pies, military antiques, dresses, DVDs, and hats.
It can be crowded or deserted, but the awe-inspiring view never changes; I stop a moment and look up and see the centuries-old Gothic spires of the college and its chapel to be reminded of the grandeur of this place; will it ever grow old?
Rain pours down, but I am safely inside, looking out from a seat in the library that I now call my own, thinking that I would only see grass this green and sprays of flowers this alive during a Minnesota May; I am in a library (and a city) that has more history than I can fathom.
So far, I have just been a spectator, watching the attempts of students and tourists alike to struggle and then succeed to navigate the river in a foreign vehicle; one day I will try, but for now, the bridge suits me just fine.
Now, outside the city, suddenly surrounded by grass that I can walk on and cows that do not know what time it is, I am at peace; this is a place to return to, a place to sit and soak in the sun, air, and land; this is a place of calm.
As the bell tolls nine times and the books stare enticingly out at me from their homes on the shelves, the dark ceiling beams angling toward the heavens and botanical themed stained-glass windows of Pembroke library can’t fail to remind me that I am not in Minnesota anymore.