A Farewell to Borders

I knew last week that Borders could no longer be the refuge it once was for me.  Too much angst and longing now lived inside its walls for me to truly benefit from the calm I always found in its towering shelves of books.  But I still loved it.  And I’d hoped that someday I’d again find more comfort than sadness there.

But that day won’t come now because Borders, within a matter of weeks, will be closing its doors for the last time.  As much as society has heralded the coming of the eReader, analyzed the effects of behemoth Amazon, and discussed the role of the physical book in our increasingly electronic world, it still sends a physically unsettling jolt through me to know that, if I’m in dire need of a book, I won’t be able to duck into my favorite bookstore and pick it up.

Sometimes two days really does seem too long to wait.  And Amazon, as much as I love them and support them with my business, doesn’t have someone to make small talk as you pay for your purchase.  No one comes up to you as you peruse the links and blurbs to ask if you need any help finding what you’re looking for.  Amazon can’t look you in the eyes and smile at you.  Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but in my book that still counts for something.

The thing I loved most about Borders was it gave me a place to go, and then, to be.  How many words did I write within the support of its walls?  I cannot tell you with any greater specificity than, it was a lot.  It was a good place for write-ins, less cramped than local coffee shops, and with the added benefit of inspiration all around you, by way of people as well as the stories that had made it to concrete form via paper and ink and binding.

How many conversations did I have whilst walking the aisles or sitting in the café?  It was one of my favorite places to meet to catch up with people, quiet enough to hear both your thoughts and the voice of whomever you were with, but not so quiet that you felt awkward speaking.  The spirit of the place always felt warm, which made it perfect for both rekindling and deepening friendships, both old and new.

Now, as this place I’ve loved slowly disappears, I must decide how to remember it.  This is what I choose. Borders for me will always be a purveyor of magic.  It was the place I could meet a friend I hadn’t seen in months or even years and discover kinship immediate and deep.  It was the place I learned I could fall in love again, all because a barista made me tea, stole my heart and carried it for a time; and it was the place where I was learning to survive heartbreak when my heart became too heavy for him to bear.  It was the place where I could walk among stories, from the centuries-old to the just-revealed, and steal their strength and wisdom, and where I could trade money for the honor of taking them home with me.  And it was the place where I could and did create stories of my own, enveloped by humanity’s greatest tradition even as I took part in it.  Magic, all of this.

I can take comfort in knowing that this magic will not cease to exist with Borders, but a part of me grieves knowing it will be harder to find.

And so, to Borders and its employees, I thank you sincerely for everything you have given and everything I have taken away.

2 thoughts on “A Farewell to Borders

  1. Great farewell to the book store. I never got acquainted with my Borders because they were in weird places. I suspect this is part of the changing times. Another giant will rise in its place. I do hope you get another bookstore to fill your immediate needs. x

  2. Pingback: 2011: My Year in Review « Elizabethan Theatre

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