Diane…so much more than the librarian

diane and me2

She had red hair when I first met her, but this time, it was blond. She said that she remembered when she met my mom and I in 2013. She told me that my mom and I had just arrived at the Psychology building, and she was carrying a stack of things back to the library. I said, with a smile, “Yes, I remember!”. In my mind I was smiling even more at the fact that Diane remembered that day too; it made me feel special that she did. Diane is the Department of Psychology Library librarian at Cambridge University, and I went to visit her recently when I got back to Cambridge. I had to say ‘Hi!’ again now; because at the time when I felt the most lost in this city— back when I first got here in 2013— Diane was joyful, welcoming and keen on helping me get myself sorted and settled in. She made me feel worth pausing from work to help. When we met two years ago, and she was carrying that stack of things, she’d invited mom and I to follow her, and we did. She spoke to us as we walked toward the library. She then offered to register me to the library and was willing to help beyond everything we’d asked. Up until that point, I’d met very few strangers in Cambridge who were so nice, so warm, so genuinely considerate, and she made a huge impact on my outlook; she made me feel that it wouldn’t be so bad being alone in a new place once my parents returned to Trinidad.
So, when I got back to Cambridge this year, she was one of the first people I visited, despite the fact that I’m no longer in the Psychology Department. We chatted for a while. She asked me if it’s difficult being away from my parents and if I miss them. I told her ‘yes, sometimes I do’. She gave me a knowing look, a thoughtful look, and then said, ‘I miss my daughters very much. They’ve both gone away now, and we Skype… but it’s not the same. [They’re studying away I believe; at least one is in the US] Sometimes you just want to be there close to them, to hug them. We do activities together over Skype sometimes. Do you Skype with your parents?’ I responded that Yes, sometimes I do. We continued to speak, and as she continued to speak of her daughters, and I of my parents, I felt this strange sense that in a way she was sharing with me the type of empathetic concern that my parents might feel for me as a daughter in a foreign land…. and my only hope was that as I spoke from the perspective of being a daughter away from home, that I similarly was giving her the gift of having her feel more certain that her kids were fine and missed her too.
Diane and I had a lovely convo; she’s so incredible at making you feel welcome, important and as though you’re in a home away from home, and so, when she whispered to me, ‘I’m leaving the library soon. I’m going to teach in a preschool!’, I felt both saddened and happy. Sad: because I love knowing that Diane’s there in Psychology. I love knowing that I can see her and catch a smile, short convo and a genuinely caring ‘Hi, How are you?’. I know that I’ll miss her presence there. But I was happy because I absolutely believe that she’d make a wonderful, kind-hearted teacher. ‘Working with children will be so joyful’, she said, ‘I think that it will be great for me at this point in my life. I know that it’s really late to change careers now. I’m thinking of doing my PGCE; I’d really love to work with children and I’m excited for the new job!’ …and I agree with her, and if my recommendation was worth anything, I’d recommend her for the new job; because I have no hesitance in my belief that she’d be an excellent teacher, that her students will love her, that she’d bring joy wherever she journeys in life.

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