The Salt Lake City Public Library is a glass house. A tall glass house. I took my kids there yesterday, along with my parents in law and Derek’s 3 youngest siblings. We first went to the frog exhibit at the University of Utah’s natural history museum, which was great fun. Then we headed down to the library, which was moved to a new building a couple years ago.
The new building is a beautiful structure, with a grand staircase on the outside that leads right up to the roof, ending at the pinnacle, where you can look out over City Hall and downtown Salt Lake. There are native Utah plants on the roof. It’s really lovely. The inside has a court with small stores, tables, and a glass wall that looks into the library portion, about 4 floors worth. The elevators are not in a shaft, and they are also glass. The glass elevator doors, when closed, look out into the court.
There is a purpose to my description. I was anticipating a fun outing with my family. I hadn’t been to the new library, even though the old one was my favorite haunt as a child, and I cannot resist libraries. I love reading. Love it. So I thought it would be a fun and exciting trip. Little did I know that vertigo would take hold of me and threaten my sanity.
We climbed to the very top of the roof, and there, my little sister in law tried to lift 3 year old Zeeb up to look out on Salt Lake. Terror. Then, when I reached them, I noticed the stairwell that went into the building, and down 6 or 7 flights in a corkscrew. I leaned my head over to look down, and was immediately seized by the vision of my baby girl leaping from my arms, and her little body being battered by the armrails as she fell to the cement below. I had to get down and out. I tried to make Calvin hurry, but he wanted to slide his feet on the metal rail that ran on the outside of the stairs. He wanted to climb.
We had to walk across a bridge to get back to the elevator, and I had to cling to my Kiki and stay exactly in the middle of the path. I begged Calvin to keep up, and finally Grandpa, who hadn’t noticed my unease, steered him in the right direction. Inside, we took the elevator, looking through the glass walls down on the stone floor of the court4 stories below, and came out on the second floor. Both little boys took off to climb the railings and go under the indoor waterfall. I had to stay in one place for a few minutes. Soon, Calvin returned to me and decided to try to pry the elevator doors open. The ones that open to nowhere. I knew, intellectually, that this could not be done, especially by a scrawny 5 year old. Nevertheless, I started to hyperventilate and cry.
More stairs, more glass elevators, and more begging and crying. I managed not to drop Kiki. Calvin and Zeeb did not fall to the depths. We didn’t even lose anyone. The ringing in my ears subsided, and my brain stopped the kaleidoscope of inventing ways my children might die.
The guilt of having imagined it is still there.