Our Love Library

The Seattle Public Library's new Capitol Hill branch, which recently opened, is a sleek abstraction of bricks and brushed-steel rafters jutting in improbable directions. From the library's northern entrance, the room opens outward toward a staggering wall of glass. (Beyond the glass wall is an outdoor deck, thickly encaged with glittering metal.) The library's interior is lofty and climate-controlled. Ten disk-shaped chandeliers hang from the slightly sloping ceiling, casting an indirect, flattering light. A second-story pathway, which rings the main room overhead, is a popular place to stand because one can look down over the railing at others in the main room below. The new Capitol Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library is, in short, a gay bar.

At the Saturday (May 31) opening celebration, however, gay men were outnumbered, not slightly, by politicians, children, and a 42-member marching band. (Still, the marching band was quite gay: They played "I Got Rhythm.") All day long, children shook hands with giant costumed characters derived from storybooks, although it was entirely unclear where the children were derived from. (Someone said, "I didn't know Capitol Hill had any kids.") Greg Nickels, City Council President Peter Steinbrueck, and others delivered speeches, which, of course, I missed, but, according to those present, the crowd was spared the kind of political portentousness that usually attends these kinds of events. (When I approached one of Steinbrueck's aides and asked her to tell me what he had talked about, she said, "Peter made a very short speech. Short. That's notable. That should be mentioned in your article.") Later, by phone, Steinbrueck, a former architect, talked about the "wonderful warm warmth of feeling that you experience upon entering the space."

"Only in Seattle would a library opening be this packed," said Rebecca Brown, who gave a reading at the opening. Brown read aloud from her new book (The End of Youth) about being young and in search of the wonderful warm warmth of love. Later Saturday night, at a bar, I met up with a friend who's been in search of love ever since I've known him. He said he needed a new place to meet people. I told him to try the library.

* * *

My favorite person ever, University Bookstore's longtime events director Kim Ricketts, quietly gave her notice last week. No word on whether personality conflicts with a certain colleague are to blame for her resignation--both sides refuse to comment--but a personality-conflict scenario wouldn't surprise me: Ricketts is known for speaking her mind, and therefore many (unfairly, insipidly) take her to be a hellcat.

* * *

Ever taken a writing class at Richard Hugo House? E-mail me at the address below.