Living in the High School Library

New. School.

Can any two other words evoke such equal feelings of curiosity and trepidation in a tween or teen? Pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone more than three feet tall jump for joy over the thoughts of being pulled from their normal and dropped in the midst of new schedules, peers and teachers.

But when we returned home from vacation on a recent Sunday evening, our oldest son didn’t have time to think about it. Faster than fast he unpacked his suitcase, ironed his new uniform, and went from English-speaking camper to Spanish-speaking student.


Putting on the welcome green with a few new acquaintances.

A mere 45 hours separated his all-camp dance and closing ceremony from walking into another Mexican school as the only gringo. Strolling through camp with a ukulele on one shoulder feels way more fabulous than trying to find your locker with a backpack on two shoulders.

At least he doesn’t need to worry about poison oak this week.

For the past ten years Micah only had to walk between one and three blocks to school. Now he gets to ride 40 minutes one way in the car.

At six a.m.

Moving from a rural public school in the dirt to a urban private school on concrete can produce a bit of culture shock. Starting an hour and a half earlier can, too. So on the first day we eased into the new lifestyle with riveting travel conversation.

“You nervous?”

“A little.”

“Did you make your sandwich?”

“Uh, no.”

Come September he might be riding public transportation home, but for the first few weeks our plan included me staying down in Ensenada and then picking him up in the afternoon.

He also needs to figure out how many bus changes occur between the crowded city and mellow countryside, and if the, “it takes an hour and a half to get home” rumor is true.

Even though staying down there involves almost seven hours of wait time for me, I intended on finding a coffee shop with wifi, writing my blogs, sipping something Mexican, and saving a ton of gas and travel.

But instead of paying for a guilt-induced drink in a crowded and/or noisy cafe, I decided to stay in Micah’s high school library. This is not a nerd alert, though I do feel a need to explain myself as I walk through campus.

“No, I am not checking up on my son—I’m saving money.”

Don’t Cry For Me, En-se-na-da


From where I sit I have very little to complain about. The three-story library is quiet, comfortable, open to the public and smells normal. The view is beautiful, calm and inspirational. Unlike my past relationship with Dewey and his decimals, I actually appreciate being here.

The day I veered off my straight and narrow junior high path, I surprised myself. I didn’t turn to light drug dealing like some people we know. You must have me confused with the man I sleep next to, who discovered entrepreneurial tendencies at a young age and hails from Hemet.

Mine was a much smaller infraction.

Wait for it…

My friend and I got kicked out of the public library.

Rebels in the making—I know.

We were talkers and apparently incapable of whispering. Multiple warnings and a violent case of the giggles got us a phone with a cord stretched over the crowded circulation desk, and landed us on the front steps while we waited for our disappointed moms.

felton library

See us there on the steps? No, you don’t. We’re at home getting lectured.

How ironic that the musty old building still holding my embarrassing-turned-funny memory is what comes to mind while I hang out in my son’s modern high school library.

The once ancient, rectangular, wood tables beneath me are now round, plastic and metal. And instead of waiting for my mom to pick me up without any way of telling her I wanted to leave early, I now wait for my son to use his iPod to send me a text through Messenger on the campus wifi when he’s done.

These libraries look, smell and feel vastly different. But at the end of the day, it does not matter if there’s an old lady shushing me in English or a young man welcoming me in Spanish. I still spend a ridiculous number of hours in this huge box of books.

CETYS library

Twenty-six years and a different country later, I find myself happy to sit here without distractions or shushers.

But when a writer gets stuck in a library for three weeks without a computer, ideas either dry up or flow faster than a hand and pen can dance down the page.

So far I have…

Written 1 1/2 blogs by hand,

Sat in five different chairs,

Counted three cargo ships in a line,

Hid in the back corner next to Macbeth and Oliver Twist to talk on my cell, (before I saw this sign.)


Found the raffle ticket guy for our required sales,

Attended a parent meeting,

Slowly pounded out a few emails on my phone,

Read three magazines, including the June edition of The Costco Connection,

Eaten an unusual amount of raw nuts,


Met the principal,

Crudely outlined a future book,

Tried all four bathroom stalls,

Found out the school store does not have P.E. sweats in stock for Micah’s leg length,

Taken a nap on my arm,

Written two thank you notes,

Had the urge to hide a book on display called Adultry,

Watched a parenting webinar,

and spied on my son from the multipurpose room through the indoor soccer court.

And that was only the first week.

Our laptop died in February, but I haven’t needed wanted another one until now. Friends heard about this minor dilemma, sent money for a replacement, and I picked out a sweet refurbished model last week. I feel spoiled, loved and undeserving, but I turn gratitude toward Christ and thank him for generous people in my life who understand and support my desire to write.

This new machine boasts a few bells and whistles that would make my old librarian’s head spin, but since she seemed about 88 back in ’88, I’m not sure she’s still kickin’.

While I dream of typing freely and not having to transfer my notes, my phone taunts good news:

“Your item is ready for pickup.”

Without plans to go to San Diego for another week, my lonely laptop sits up there in the back room of the Apple store while I sit down here in a Mexican high school library with paper and ink.

I’m coming, little silver friend. Can’t wait for you to see your new view.

Have you ever been surprised by a super generous gift for no reason?

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  • Nicole

    Tell Micah I feel his pain. It was 45 mins to and from my high school. Except for the semester when I took the bus which extended my trip to 1 hr 15 mins. There is a trade-off though… On the bus, I could either do homework or nap. Both were acceptable options.

    As for the library, you’re living my dream. To spend all day surrounded by stacks of classics…no interruptions…no distractions…just books and a to-do list with several satisfying checkmarks in the margin… Ahh, this is the life! Eat it up!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Ha ha–thanks, Nicole! Too bad all the books are in Spanish and most look like they’re older than the building. 🙂 But yes… no interruptions has been nice (as long as I turn off my phone), and the distractions aren’t too bad. Just teens flirting at one table and friends playing a loud version of chess at another. Olé!