Monday, September 12, 2011

A True Loss

Yesterday afternoon I went into our neighborhood Border's . . . .the last trip into the store to see what they had at 90 percent off . . . and I put my head down and cried. There was nothing left other than empty bookshelves and bare walls. Men were taking furniture apart and carting out tables and display stands.

Crying over a store seems a little stupid, I know. In this economy, a closing store is certainly nothing new. Let me explain why this is so sad to me.

I love books. Don't like 'em . . .LOVE 'em. Probably a little addicted to them, in fact. My family teases me that if I live long enough to read all of the books I have in the house, I will break all longevity records. When I was a teenager, loving books meant begging Mom to go to the mall and hanging out in Walden's while she distracted herself at the fabric store next door. It meant smiling at my dad, my sweet dad, and asking him to put up another set of bookshelves for me. (He always did.) Years later, that same smile worked on my father in law and he hand made me some lovely bookcases I still have stuffed full today.

It's little surprise that I went into English. Less of a surprise that I grew up to be an author myself. When I say I love books, I mean it! I love reading them, but I also love lining them up on a shelf and just looking at them. In my dream house, I have a library where they are all together in alphabetical order and I have one of those rolling ladders from one section to the next. . . . Anyway . . .

When we lived in Indiana, we were more than a little lonely. Joseph and I and whatever kids we had would often travel about an hour east to the larger city of Ft. Wayne. They had good restaurants, a mall and . . . yes. . . . glory be . . . a Border's. I still remember the first time I walked in. I thought maybe heaven existed after all and I had finally found it (without dying first, how clever of me!). I became somewhat addicted to the place and we went there often. No one there asked us what church we went to. They didn't ostracize us for not attending one. That was a welcome relief, believe me.

Fast forward to 2001 and I am in Oregon, alone . .. kids and husband back home . . . and I am being shown nine houses for sale. I've never stepped foot in Oregon before so I don't know neighborhoods or anything at all about the city . . . overwhelmed? Yeah, a bit. What house should I choose? Where should we live? As I tried to take in everything the realtor was telling me about areas and prices and taxes, I looked out the window and I saw it ... Border's!! Wait, I said . . . .there is a Border's only seven minutes from the house you just showed me? I'll take that one. Yes, I really said that. Yes, we made an offer on that house and yes, we got it. Still live there today . . . but now the Border's isn't going to be seven minutes away.

Over the years, I cannot tell you how much time (or money!) we spent in that store. I met friends for coffee, conducted interviews and was interviewed and attended meetings in their coffee shop area. My entire family went there almost every Saturday night to listen to music. They read, I wrote letters and we soaked up the incredibly different musicians, from xylophone bands to brown jug bands and everything in between. When my mother visited from Indiana, we took her there to listen to music and meet our friends.

Friends? Yes, friends. Because over the years, we had met the people who worked at Border's and they had become friends. We went to their weddings. We meet their children. We went out for a drink. At one point, when my writing workload took a nosedive, I even worked at Border's. I knew the store forwards and backwards anyway, so thought I would give it a try. I worked the (shudder) holiday season and learned that retail is not the job path for me. People are just. .. . strange. But I learned even more about the store and the people who worked there. I had some amazing times and when I had to suddenly leave my job for a few days because my dad was in the hospital in Indiana and very sick, the single sympathy card I was sent when he died was from the staff at Border's.

Now, they are closing and yes, it breaks my heart. My kids grew up here. I can point to almost every corner and tell you a story about it. Nicole asked a guy out there. Caspian met a friend in that aisle. Coryn read a billion books in one sitting here. My mom was here. Nicole's ex was here. My friend who died a few years ago sat at this table with me.

So, thank you Border's for some of the favorite times of my life. You helped me feed my addiction, you gave me a social place to hang out, you introduced me to some fun people, you facilitated spending time with my family and you will be terribly, terribly missed.


Gipseemom said...

I think you and my friend, Cory, need to get together and have a good cry.

GinaG said...

I totally understand! My family would be equally devastated if it was Powells closing. We've practically lived there most of the kids' lives.

Nomadic Nicole said...

This was a beautiful post and a heartbreaking one. I too have memories upon memories of Borders, that Borders in particular. I have asked out a billion men there, taken every boyfriend I have had there, gone on day outs with my brothers, coffee outings with my mom, found some of my favorite authors, spent evenings just listening to music with my family...

This post was really needed, because that store played a pivotal role in our lives mom. I don't blame you one bit for crying when you walked in and saw it in shambles. I'd have cried too, cried for a piece of my childhood I can no longer visit. You are totally justified. :)