WHAT’S PLAYING: Bob Dylan “Mississippi”
When I first moved to the frigid North six years ago, Borders quickly became my second home. (Actually, it was more like my first home since I went looking for new books before I even signed the lease on my apartment.) On that sunny spring day, I met someone who changed the way I looked at shopping forever: Lincoln. This man singlehandedly turned a weekly excursion into hell complete with slow moving crowds, cell phone shouters and screaming babies, into something almost bearable.
Lincoln was the first friend I made here. (Which should tell you two things about me: 1. I like books. and 2. I don’t like people…unless they’re giving me books.) Over the years, he has become my go-to guy for new authors and interesting reads, my writing confidant, cliché detector, and one of my dearest friends. Yesterday was his last day at Borders and it felt like someone had just shot my dog.
When I heard that Borders was closing its doors for good, I cried for three hours and then I spent the next couple of weeks stomping around, glaring at everyone and cursing under my breath. (I don’t handle change very well.) Because, you see, Borders was much more than just a store to me. It was my happy place, one of only two social outlets I had. (Now all I have is work. Which, let’s face it, is just pathetic.) More than that, the half empty shelves were a stark reminder that I would never get the chance to walk into my favorite bookstore and see my own novel sitting on the shelf next to the great ones like Pratchett, Gaiman, Rothfuss or Shirley. (OK, I probably wouldn’t have been on the same shelf as any of these guys, but you get the point.) It was like a sign from the Universe telling me to give it up. Why bother writing a book when it’s obvious that people just aren’t that interested in them anymore? What was I going to do now? Hawk my book by the side of the road?
Screw you, Universe. I could no more voluntarily stop writing than I could stop breathing. I spend most of my days lost in worlds of my own creation, and if I didn’t write them down, I’d soon wind up in the booby hatch. If people aren’t interested in my novel, then so be it. But I honestly don’t believe that the death of Borders is the death of books. There are far too many awkward loners like me for that to happen. People for whom reading is their only escape from a confusing, screwed up world full of people anxious to change who and what you are to suit their own purposes.
So, to all you bibliophiles who may have lost your own Lincoln and your connection to the outside world along with him, don’t despair. Books will never die, not so long as there is breath in our bodies…and roads with heavy foot traffic.