Tuesday, April 14, 2015


So I have, to my shame, gone into the Beverly Hills library for the first time.  And not just since moving back her, but, I think, ever.  It hasn't occurred to me to love a library since I last visited Bryn Mawr, to which I intend to leave my papers, whether or not they want them.
     There is a strange stillness in most libraries, but not this one.  Here there is almost a suspended echo, as if you were not really meant to tell if there is anyone here.  Across from me at a facing table is a not-old-man, and he is looking at a book with pictures.  I am a little sad, because I remember how bright I was when I was in the Bryn Mawr library, where there was a truly unearthly silence, and an enormous echo, so everything almost down to your thoughts resonated, and when you dropped even a pencil, it resounded.
A sneeze shook the place.  So you really built up concentration.     
         That’s over at Bryn Mawr now.  A new, functional library has replaced the old, still revered one, where you can go for tight-assed events and honorings.  They have never corrected or improved the acoustics, which everywhere contain a shattering echo.  They redid Goodhart, the great auditorium, and forgot to fix the sound, so it’s still Awful.  They put on my musical that took place Upstairs from the Symposium, and even after they redid the place, you still couldn’t really hear what they were saying onstage, and in blank verse, yet.   My typewriter, which it still was when I was writing it , had jammed halfway across.  So I figured the gods, whom I assume were at work, it being partly about them, wanted it in blank verse.  I can only imagine Katharine Hepburn in her plays,-- not that hard because the sound is exactly how it must have been then: dreadful.  She came back and met with us  when someone gave a scholarship in her name, while I was still an undergraduate, and those of us who loved the theatre were invited to a small reception, where she spoke, not that happily I don't think.  I took her tea from her and held it-- it was before her hands had started to shake that badly.  And she thanked me-- I believe from the heart.  She seemed truly uncomfortable.    "I suppose I'm supposed to tell me how Bryn Mawr helped me in the thea-ah-tare," she Hepburned.  "But I cah-nt." 
 I saw her recently in a TV special she clearly oversaw and narrated, and there was a clip of her and Spencer Tracy in a convertible and he made some crack about Bryn Mawr.  A put-down it was meant to be, I think, but it seemed genuinely funny.
     I am delighted I still love it as much as I do,  and the friends that I have still, to whom I can speak with the same affection and openness I always did.  And I believe they can, too.  A glorious level of smarts and kindness, and, in Marilyn's case, unfailing organization.  There was a standard of excellence that included nice.  I was a very lucky girl.  Which I was, accurately, not having yet a real concept of what you had to be and know to be categorized as Woman.