Despite not having discovered my own coherent spiritual side yet, there have been a few places where I have felt a certain  holiness that is difficult to describe. I think the Pantheon in Rome was one such place, as was Jeita Grotto in Lebanon, and Times Square in New York City. All three places rendered me awe-struck and contemplative, in very different ways I’m sure you might  assume. And I’m certain there have been others that are not leaping out at me right now.

But the newest one is the public library on 42nd in New York City. There’s a heavy and scholarly feel to the large reading rooms, not only because there are thousands of important-looking books lining the walls and hundreds of people caught deep in the books they are studying or the laptops they are beating at with their callously fingers, but also because the aged and wise building (dated 1911) makes me think of all that has been produced in these same halls that I sit in right now. In this same spot, #173. Imagine what wonderful, and terrible ideas must have occurred to people spending their hours and days on these same (or similar) wooden chairs. Or how many hours were spent in suffering blocks to creativity, procrastinating with day dreaming (probably) back in the day and facebooking now. How many people met their best friends or worst enemies or lovers or life partners here. How many homeless people took showers in their bathrooms, or sought refuge from a blizzard. How many people noticed each other but did not do anything about it despite their curiosity.

How many stories were told, in one way or another, and how many stories remained untold or unheard.

Today, I sit here to tell Ophelia Ortiz’s story.


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