Last night I stopped by our soon-to-be closing Borders for the second time since the going out of business announcement was made a couple weeks ago. Luckily, I left the kids at home so I was able to pathetically roam the aisles with as much concentration as anyone who is losing a beloved home. Instead of writing more about how sad I am to lose this great bookstore, I am inserting a reflection I wrote about Borders back in 2005; yes, I loved and wrote about it even then. Here it is.
February 1, 2005
There’s something very collective to me when I go to Borders Bookstore. I’m sick today, with a horribly mean sore throat, and eyes that are the sizes of small green peas sitting in each socket. I feel cruddy. But I thought that I’d take advantage of my free coffee-stamped card and get myself a well-deserved soy latte. And I did.
So here I am. The moment I entered this store of contentment I thought, “There’s something very collective about this place.” Collective, meaning that I feel this store is enough of a meditation for me as compared to a yoga studio. Plus, it’s free. I’m not stuck with the $15.00/class fee of a basic yoga class. Instead, I regroup the moment I come in the Borders café and order my free drink. Yes, I realize it’s not always a free drink, but I think the occasional and optional charge of $2.69 is practical for my life’s contentment.
Like I said, I’m sick today (not that sick) and some unknown force popped this idea into my head … Borders… Free Latte…soothing to sore throat….ahhh….!
Sometimes I sit in the café or sometimes I go and find a spot in the cascade of chairs (some upholstered, some not) throughout the store. Some days, it’s magazine time, where I pick out maybe 4 or 5 magazines of different subjects (or the same) and look through each page. There are also those times when I will shamefully look through a People, which would cause my husband to shake his head in disgust if he knew. I love looking through the newly released books at the front and writing them down on my wish list. And of course, there are days when I will be on a quest for some specific subject, like building an ottoman, and I’ll plop myself down in the “Woodworking” section for a couple of hours.
Of course, when you enter into this lifestyle of constant knowledge, you must respect the books or magazines, because they are not yours to break the binding or dog-ear the pages unless you have paid for them! And I have to say that Borders’ customers have been pretty good about that.
Get this, for all of you looking for a cheap date idea, go to Borders. My husband and I will come down to Borders on a Friday or Saturday night and just hang out until closing. He’ll get a George Carlin book or something similar and giggle to his heart’s content. See, contentment again. And I will go around the store and choose at least two books that I always wanted to read but never got around to when I was here on, say, “magazine day.” So I’ll wind up with some obscure book about internal organs and maybe a knitting book. So! So there we are, sitting in the secret pair of black upholstered chairs that are there only for us. It’s been a rare day when we were foiled out of our secret place to read. Either way, we hang out, read, share excerpts from our books with each other and then, apologize for interrupting the other, and out of the corner of our eye watch the children run gleefully from the children’s book department as their mothers run after them.
And it’s a great place to entertain out-of-town guests. My parents come to town about 5 or 6 times a year and it’s pretty easy to keep them happy. First, a trip to Panera and then, an evening at Borders. Please don’t think this was my original idea. They started this pattern when I was young and single. And during that time, I often accompanied or met them in a totally different city when visiting one of my brothers. They’d talk about it with the same awe that most would have when visiting Vatican City…..”We were at Borders”……”We ate at Panera....” (Don’t worry, I’m sure that Panera will make it’s own detailed excerpt eventually.)
My parents live in a much smaller town than Kansas City, so they don’t have a Panera or Borders. But they do frequent the local bookstore there. My parents have always been readers, so it’s just natural to entertain them at Borders when they come to town – plus, they prefer it. Things have changed, though. My mom and I used to get a specialty coffee each and then look around at books. Then, we just got the coffee and sat in the café and talked. Eventually, we discovered the pot of tea for about 2 bucks and come on, isn’t a tea pot in itself just a ton of fun! Of course, I milk the free hot water refills for all they’re worth. I do feel a little guilty that my mom doesn’t get to browse the bookshelves anymore, but I think talking to your daughter (me) for a couple of hours over a pot of tea is indeed, special in itself.
My dad goes directly to the golf magazines or books and as he’s looking, I run out like a Homesteader and claim him a comfy, upholstered chair. That is my job. He’s never told me to do it or even hinted that I should. I just feel that it’s my way of taking care of him. Weird, huh? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know, I just know that the moment I left home and returned as “my little girl that moved far, far away” (Mother’s words), I’ve felt very territorial regarding my parents. I know my father could handle himself anywhere and put you in your place with his glance or his words. But I live here in the city and I don’t want either of them to have to deal with mean people, bad drivers (that’s why I always drive), getting lost (although my father has maybe gotten lost twice in his life), or having to look for an empty chair in Borders. Anyway, there have been moments when I’ve dragged a comfy chair across a good portion of the store, just so my dad could have a little more privacy. Because it’s my job. Wait a minute! Is this the infamous, “You’ll appreciate your parents more when you’re older?” Well, heaven forbid!
I’ve now finished my soy latte and I must say that I feel much better. My congestion has also loosened just as I thought it would. Maybe I’ll survive my sickness after all. Of course I owe that to my present environment of content. (Wink!)