I just read part of an article mourning the demise of Borders, and I realized it is having an impact on me. My daughter and I were near our local one on Saturday, and I asked her if she wanted to go in. She said, "No. It's too sad." I didn't think much about it at the time, but I'm sad about it too.
We are a family of readers. My kids have grown up going to Borders. The girls started reading the Harry Potter series when they were in second and fourth grade, and they were at Borders at midnight for all the releases after the first book. We waited in line with our pre-order tickets, watching as costumed Harrys, Hermiones, Rons, Dumbledores, and Snapes ran around excitedly. Buying Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans became a Christmas tradition in our family. The girls would give me a jelly bean, saying it was coconut, and I would dutifully bite into it, knowing it was likely to be sardine instead. My oldest daughter regularly threw up after biting into disgusting ones. It's a very strange tradition, I know, but we still laugh about the sausage jelly bean incident. She still gags when she thinks about it. I put one of the pre-order tickets in the scrapbook I made for my other daughter when she graduated from high school, and the last page of the 7th Harry Potter book is on the last page of that scrapbook. It is the end of an era.
My ex-husband and I used to go there and look at the home improvement books, getting ideas for the house we were completely renovating. I sometimes forget that there were a lot of good times with him. A lot of them happened at Borders. I am not high maintenance where gifts are concerned, but I appreciate when someone gives me something that shows he or she knows me. I can look at my bookshelf and see a lot of books he got for me: the two-volume set of the complete Far Side collection, A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, Spook, Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide, the Encyclopedia of North American Birds, the Planet Earth boxed DVD set, two Onion books... There are many more too. The marriage failed miserably, but there was a time when we were deeply connected. We had many, many dates at Borders. It is one of the places we were the happiest, either apart or together.
And out of that connection came our son. Some of his first steps were at Borders. Taking him there mostly meant chasing after him exasperatingly, but there were hours spent reading to him on the carpeted steps in the children's section. He started at the books he could chew on, and has so far worked his way up to the "Books for Young Readers" section. It can be difficult to get him to sit and read, but damn, that kid will sit on the toilet and read for an hour at a time if left alone. It must be a guy thing. He thinks it's normal to spend the better part of an afternoon or evening surrounded by books, and to hunt for the perfect book.
As I reflect on Borders closing, I realize that even though the universe obviously wants to choke the life out of me, I have managed to have some really good, normal times. Years after I have died, my kids will undoubtedly recall the time I gave my daughter a "Bonsai Potato" book as a gag gift and when, inspired by the Harry Potter series, we went to Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan to hear John Irving, Stephen King, and J. K. Rowling read from their works. The universe can take away my husband(s), house, parents, good credit rating, security, companionship and dreams, but it hasn't taken away the memory of the taste of the Godiva dark chocolate/lime truffles we ate while waiting to see J.K. Rowling in person. I know the universe can actually take that memory away too. For right now, we still have it. In a way someone who is waiting for multiple pairs of shoes to drop at any time will appreciate, I am grateful for any and all agents of peace and normalcy in my life. As it turns out, Borders has been one of those agents.