Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Sad Day for Memories (and Books)

I know that you have heard the phrase “it’s an end of an era” and you think it’s either cheesy or obsolete. But in my opinion … it’s truly descriptive, too, and for just a second, when you hear it next time, (really) take a moment and (seriously) think about it! Think about its true meaning when someone uses it because it’s really … the end of an “era”. An era, with everything it brought and stood for, someone’s hopes, desires, white nights’ planning, someone’s dreams – just … closed! Gone. Vanished. Nothing but a memory now. You can’t even share it with your kids!

With Blockbuster closing stores all over the nation weeks ago and Borders doing the same by the end of April, the word of the day at my house is “sad”. I still refuse to “sign up” for mail videos and monthly fees! I want a movie when I want a movie, not because I have that membership that needs to pay off by the end of the month! Some months, I won’t want any movie at all. And call me crazy, but I like browsing by touching. Reading the back of things. Flipping through pages. Sometimes, in my shallow days (clear throat), I like to rent a movie or buy a book by just letting what’s on the cover guide me … Back and front.

And things get progressively worse for me when books, or papers, or any of the printed word is in danger of being dumped into “the past”. So, closing a bookstore is like national mourning day for me. One of my childhood dreams is to work in a bookstore or a library! As in a “real” one. Not the "click" and “add to cart” kind …

And Borders (just like Barnes and Noble, for another instance) is more than just “books”. In my old hometown (Greensboro, NC), Borders was a place of refuge and a second home. With nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon, I’d wander in there to browse the bargain shelves and the new releases.

I will never forget that Borders was in fact the first brick-and-mortar cd store I have ever browsed in my whole life. It was not Best Buy or … some other designated “music” store, but Borders. Just picture Alice in Wonderland and that was me in front of the cd racks! “Wow, they have a whole store full of shelves of these?!”. And you could slip the headphones on and preview what you bought. Atlanta, GA - 1998.

Borders was that place I went to to decompress after an intense movie, because it was next door to a movie theater I frequented. Or that place I went to to kill some time if I was too early for the movie! Borders was a great place, for a single, bored, gal, to people watch and have blind dates, even. For some reason, I never picked Barnes & Noble for blind dates! Too crowded, I guess! And I loved watching people who read. And browse the “real” things. That’s what formed me, that’s what put me through school and gave me an education – real, paper books with real, smelly ink on them. Being close to that culture was sybaritic to me.

The Borders in my new hometown is not closing - at least not yet – and I am grateful for that. But I am still sad to see a place that had so many avenues for dreaming open for so long say “good bye”.

I am hoping bookstores and libraries are never becoming a has been in my lifetime! I love the smell of books, old and new, still. Nothing, no amount of Yankee Candle factory made smells can replace that!

Today is a perfect day to volunteer to work for a local library – which is exactly what I did over lunch. Put my name on the list for two of them. Just to be close to real books and people who read them.

Good bye, (Greensboro) Borders! And thank you for the memories.

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