It has been a bit since I’ve written, but I’m back. Writers stop writing to live. Then we come back…
In September, I visited our local closing Borders bookstore one last time. The parking lot was completely full, everyone from our town and many others from smaller adjoining towns coming in to get a last whiff of that bookstore smell that many of us have lodged into our sense memories. The line extended halfway to the back of the store. Though things appeared somewhat chaotic with books stacked in unusual places, and customers ignoring the idea of personal space as we all tried to find our favorite authors, the energy was pretty calm. Some wandered the book aisles carrying stacks of books, and others just wandered with looks in their eyes as if to say “Is this it?” I certainly asked myself that question, not really wanting to leave. I circled the store many times over as if I were doing laps, my mind reconciling the idea of bookstore closure. I purposefully pulled books from authors I had never heard of, excited to delve into work of the obscure writer. (I’ll post those titles later). Yes, as I’ve said, as a writer, a bookstore is a holy place for me.
I spoke to an elder woman who carried a hefty bag of books that she had just purchased. She burst into a monologue of how disappointed she was knowing that she could no longer walk to the bookstore to browse the shelves and pick up a new book when the mood hit her. Our town is a bike friendly, walking friendly town. Biking or walking to get our needs, to go to school, go to work, eat out, or pick up a book is an intrinsic part of our towns’ culture. I reminded her that we still have a couple of very tiny but still surviving small used bookstores we can patronize, but yes, Borders was the hub.
When I got home with my books, I studied them one by one as I pulled them out of the bag. By habit, I scraped the price tag off of the first book, and then I caught myself. This will be the last time I’ve ever purchased a book from this store. I took the Borders price tag and stuck it back over the barcode. And then I thought of the day when I have grandchildren and they’ll ask me “What’s a bookstore?” And even beyond that, what’s a book? As of recent, Borders became the Halloween Costume Shop.