A few days ago, on August 26, I celebrated my 38th birthday. I was 30 and pregnant with our second son when I decided to quit my previous path and look for another one, my own. These eight years have been as wondrous as I could ever imagine. I was afraid back then. To start anew in the darkness of the unknown. But thrilled and inspired at the same time. A book I read in the autumn of 2014 helped: a biography of Vivienne Westwood, where she tells how she decided to quit being a young schoolteacher and move to a trailer with her two boys without any salary to bravely find her new path in the dark. It was like jumping off a cliff, she writes. Not knowing where you will land. I trusted myself, trusted my decision and four years later I opened the Sea Library. I jumped and landed in a wonderland.
This summer marked a moment when I returned to a real job. It’s strange to say ‘real’ because I work for the National Library of Latvia. It still feels unreal to me, because I have never ever studied librarianship or worked in the field. I have just loved and cared for my wild sea beast. My job is to tell stories about libraries and librarians. I am an editor of a website called biblioteka.lv. To be paid is important. I had run out of all my savings during these years. To be paid for doing something that beautiful and mostly from the Sea Library, is a dream.
To mark this inspiring summer, five days ago I stepped into a tattoo salon on my way from the National Library to the train station. The same salon where I and my husband had matching smiling snail tattoos on our bellies 13 years ago. The same salon where I went 6 years ago to crown myself: I have a Basquiat’s crown on my upper arm to mark my decision to find and found my own kingdom. The same salon where I went 4 years ago to tattoo a bright red Keith Haring heart on my shoulder blade: it was a few days before I opened the Sea Library, a decision to trust strangers, to open up. The Sea Library has been all about love, after all.
Now I went to put three dancing Keith Haring dogs on my writing hand. I am running a Sea Library of dreams, I am working at the National Library of Latvia, I am writing two books about my journey (a memoir and a book for young readers together with Lewis Buzbee from San Francisco), but most importantly – I am living with my husband Emīls and my two boys Kristians and Niklāvs, in our old wooden house on a peninsula between river and sea. The decision I made when I was 30, to be with my family, to live away from the city, to find my own path, has been the best decision ever. Without that jump I wouldn’t be dancing now with my three loves, I wouldn’t have found the wonderful world of the sea.
This summer has been filled with recognition as well. I have told about my journey on Wild Women Press, I have been mentioned on the Literay Hub and written an essay for the Seaborne Magazine. A feature about the Sea Library has been published in one of the best news magazines in Latvia, IR, and a couple of days ago I was interviewed for a local podcast on books and reading, and my library, which will be online this autumn.
This summer I have also scanned all ISBN codes of Sea Library books (the ones who have codes) for an online catalogue, but also – started a self-made catalogue (of course) sea-ibrary.com with lots of love for each and every book in my collection. It is filled now with 113 books out of 660 and each day brings a new one, so you can follow the site and receive info about a book in the Sea Library each morning.
I have swam and I have read, I have eaten fragrant apples from our orchard and spent lovely and lazy and memorable holidays with my boys and my mum and with all my friends dear to me.
I am ready for autumn.
The illustration with me looking through a rolled sailors bookmark by Laura Lukeviča was sent as a gift from her on my birthday
Happy (belated) birthday, Anna. Thank you for creating the wonderful Sea Library and sharing your inspiring story. As a fellow lover of books, reading and libraries, I look forward to following your journeys. Amy.
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Belated thank you, Amy! ❤️