Visiting a past life

Stopped in at the San Jose Library (again) this morning, to get a copy of Pride and Prejudice for my son, who managed to misplace his school edition.
This is a mixed-use library, run jointly by the San Jose Library and the San Jose State University Library, and they manage the user flow by zoning the books–3rd floor and below is for general users, upper floors more focused on academic.
Jane Austen was in the literature section on the 7th floor, not the fiction section on 3. When I trotted up there, I discovered that this is where all the literature collections from the academic library are stored–three shelves of first editions of Swinburne, original Flannery O’Connor short story collections, and hundred of authors no one reads anymore (or has heard of, for that matter).
Making my way back to the elevator, I swung by the American poetry section and bet myself whether or not they have my first book, The Angelic Alphabet, published by Tree Press while I was still in college. To my delight and surprise, the library has two copies of it, so I stopped and leafed through the book, rereading the poems and marveling over how serious I was about poetry and literature, and how I ended up leaving it all behind, first for magazines and media, and then for working with the Web.
Obviously, I still care about books, writing, and ideas a great deal–I write about them here fairly often–but the visit to the library’s 7th floor emphasized for me what I’d chosen to leave behind.