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“WHEN I GROW UP I WILL BE A SPY. I WILL BE THE BEST SPY THERE EVER WAS AND I WILL KNOW EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING.”

I usually spend my lunch hour in the library of the university I work at; I have no office door to close, there’s no break room – or anywhere, really – where I can eat my lunch in peace. Sometimes I’ll try the student commons or find a bench outside, but routinely the library has become my make-shift break room. It’s the same university I went to, the same library I used to take naps study in, but now that I don’t have to use it as a workspace I have time to explore its shelves, and today I found an old friend:

When I was younger, I loved this book. Looooooooooved it. I think I read and re-read it half a dozen times one summer. There were so many things that beguiled my little mind: she had a maid AND a cook who lived in her house, she lived in New York City and she could wander around and follow her spy routes as she pleased, she drank things called egg creams (which, I didn’t know until recently, contain no actual egg) and hid in dumbwaiters. For a kid in modern suburbia, Harriet’s world was intriguing.

And I, of course, tried to have my own spy journal that summer, though it didn’t last long: unlike the Welsches, my parents were less keen on having their young daughter wander around the streets alone, and even didn’t understand that I couldn’t tell them where I was going – it was a spy route and had to be a secret, duh. So, my observations were limited to whatever I could observe from our yard which, given the 110+ degree summer heat, was not much (“The next door neighbor is walking her dog. They both look really hot.”) It was a short-lived spy career.

But even reading it now, as a Full-Fledged Grown Up Person, reading it still makes me want to eavesdrop and observe the people around me, to try and record everything I see, so I won’t forget a single thing. All I need is a green composition book and a tomato sandwich.

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