"I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better."
Robert Frost from his poem Birches
I visited a Border’s store in Chandler today. It closes its doors forever Sunday. Everything must go, every book, every CD, every employee; even the fixtures are for sale.
The liquidators were in the process of marking somethings down to 85% off when I arrived. Now I am a frugal person who gets a charge akin to drug use from an outstanding bargain, But there was no rush of anything but sadness as I walked around the barren skeleton and touched the almost empty fixtures and the "priced to move"books seeing only liquidators and no familiar Borders employees except the gentleman behind the register. Almost everything was gone.
I wanted to come when I first heard the news. I value loyalty, and this store and I had history. It was in this store a decade ago as I struggled to shift career gears from what I had been to what I had always dreamed of being that I met most of my current best friends. I worked first as a bookseller and then as a barrista while attending Nursing prereq classes.
As I said, I met many of my current close friends here. One of them was sort of my supervisor, four of them were a family that came to play in my game night, and one was my frequent cafe customer. I made a lot of friends at Borders, some stayed close, some drifted.
I have bought my children and their wives and their friends Christmas presents and birthday presents from this store. I have followed the birth and growth of Ron’s grandchildren, Have listened to Miss Marty charm countless a decade worth of story time listeners. I brought my son Rick to the store to buy his first programming books in 2001 and to show him off when he returned from his Kerouac adventure; and it was here I would bring my son Dallon for coffee and another Stephen King when he would come home on military leave, and it was to this Borders I took Nam and his wife and my two granddaughters the last time I would ever see him alive. Miss Marty helped me find them the perfect books for their flight back home. For ten years this Borders was my "Cheers". I knew them. They knew me. And Borders got my business.
The company underwent leadership changes about the same time I underwent some conscience changes. About a year ago I moved walking distance from a local bookstore in Tempe and although I still loved the people at Borders, I started shopping local and giving my book business to Changing Hands.
Today walking through this closing store it wasn’t as if I was just dealing with my sadness that good people I care about are without a job, or that now the Evil Empire is one step closer to having a monopoly on the book sales market. It was more. This store and I have history. It’s shiny empty shelves for sale at rock bottom prices seemed to mirror back and mock me with all my turn of the century optimism about love, financial abundance and happily ever after. Suddenly I wanted to cry for all of it. The closing of this Chandler Borders was symbolic of hope derailed and I saw not only the faces of my failed marriage and my lost son, but the news pictures from Japan and Libya and the hundreds of "short sale" signs in front of houses I pass on my way to work every day, and, and and…..the ands kept coming and my soul cowed down.
Then I remembered these lines from a Robert Frost poem..Robert.Frost and Mary Oliver and Linda Pastan all kinda hang out in my head, thanks to books and thanks to bookstores like this Borders once was and I am sorry that one of the places I used to go to "get away from earth awhile" is no longer a valid escape route.
I said my good-byes to Border’s, to Awhatukee and to that other life I once imagined and Amie bought me Gummie Yoshi’s that made me laugh and now I am home and ready to sleep and remember how to dream again.