Land without Borders

A good friend told me more than a week ago that our local Borders was closing and though I believed her, I refused to embrace that sad pronouncement as a part of my personal reality.  I did not have to deal with it the day she told me. I could fully immerse myself in the first stage of grief known as denial. For about a week.

But then the email came yesterday from corporate telling me a Borders in my area was closing  – as if I didn’t know – and with audacious and wholly inappropriate !!!’s, I was summarily invited to come strip the shelves clean because everything must go. 

I posted a lament on Facebook, expressing my melancholy, daring the cruel world to just give me a dang paper cut and pour lemon juice on it, ala Miracle Max. Comments to the post bolstered my belief that it’s a sad, sad day when a bookstore closes.

I had three weeks earlier visited the beloved Borders in downtown San Diego, a victim of the first round of cuts, and left within ten minutes of arriving. The yellow and black caution tape flung everywhere was too much for me. Bad accidents and natural disasters and yellow & black caution tape go together. But not that tape and books. I should’ve known walking into my own Borders – a 10-minute drive from my front door – that there would be yellow tape there, too. And exclamation points. And dazed shoppers like me, shuffling through the aisles like zombies unaccustomed to doom.

Last night’s visitation was painful. As I told a friend later in the evening, I’ve never been so sad walking out of a bookstore with a bagful. 

The clerk who waited on me, dear Brian, who I only met for the first time last night, took his time though the check-out line behind me stretched 40-people deep. We talked as strangers at a funeral of a mutual friend. Then he picked up his black Magic Marker and told me he needed to run a black mark through all the bar codes because sales were final. And I nodded a “Do what you must.”

His hand was trembling and he laughed nervously and said, “I can’t believe I am doing this to a book. I’ve been doing it all day and my hands are still shaking.” Then he told me he loves books so much he can’t ever make a mark in or on one. Not even when he was in college. He filled piles of spiral-bound notebooks with notes from the books he had to read rather than highlight any of them. 

“Sorry,” he said as he marked my books. 

I was the sorry one. I was losing a store I really liked. He was losing a job he really loved.

When the deed was done, he handed me my books and I wished him well. 

“It’s been very nice to know you these last five minutes, Brian,” I said. 

He smiled and replied, “Have a great night.”

And I left and didn’t.

Goodbye Carmel Mountain Borders. You were a good friend. I have other friends like you, but you will be missed.

And Brian, whereever you are, all the best, brother. . .

Author: Susan

This post has 6 Comments

  1. Written Not With Ink on March 25, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I'm losing my local, ten-minutes-away Borders too. The end is near. I've gotten the emails with the rising discounts as the weeks go on. Currently everything is at 40-60% off. I was in when everything was 20-30% off. I was sad then–I don't think I could bear to go back now. Too painful is right.

    Yet, for my birthday I requested, and now own, a Kindle. So was I a part of the demise of the brick and mortar bookstore? *Sigh* It's the same lament for all the housing that went up in the suburbs, shutting down farms and putting an end to the prairie lands, and yet, I now live in the suburbs. Go figure.

    Anyhow. Great post & nice tribute to a well-loved store.


  2. pinkdaisyjane on March 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I work at a local Borders that is NOT closing, but the heartbreak is the same.

    There are some Vultures that come in wondering if they can buy our chairs, and then are upset when we tell them we are staying open, while others have hugged us on the floor, and told us they are so glad we've been spared, while tears wind down their faces.

    It's a sad time.

  3. Susan Meissner on March 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing my woes, gals. . .

  4. Joanne Bischof on March 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    This made me so sad! Between Borders closing and the loss of cursive and your beautiful “W”, I think I need a box of kleenex!

    I enjoy seeing your heart and your view of the world is always refreshing and a reminder to enjoy and savor the simple things in life 🙂 Thank you.

  5. Susan Meissner on March 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks, Joanne. . . 🙂

  6. Anonymous on March 26, 2011 at 6:18 am

    I always enjoy (well, have enjoyed) reading your posts, Susan. You have a way of magnifying what you focus on and share–and bookstores going away is painful. The world seems a painful place more so lately, but when I've had that sense in the past, I could step into a world in books for a breather–like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia. And now even the world of books screams of the woes of the world.

    I think I need to go look at the mountains for awhile, right after I read my Bible.

    We mourn together. Hope that helps.

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