One of the first things I read when I checked my e-mail this morning was a "Fond Farewell" message from Borders CEO, Mike Edwards, confirming the closing of the Borders chain. Borders has been "igniting the love of reading" for more than 40 years, and I'm taking the news kind of hard.
One of the first things that came to mind after reading the e-mail was part of a verse from Kanye West's single "All of the Lights."
Restraining order, can't see my daughter/Her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order/Public visitation, we met at Borders
In his book, Decoded, Jay-Z talks about how a key to rap, and poetry in general, is getting the details right (a gift that Jay praised Notorious B.I.G on), and Kanye gets the details exactly right in those lyrics. Borders. That one word paints a picture worth 999 more.
A friend of mine regularly spends time with his three sons at Borders. His ex-wife has custody of their children and for a period, arranging opportunities to see them was difficult. Stealing away a few hours at Borders was sometimes all they could do. Last summer, I ran into him and his boys at a Borders and it was such an awesome thing to see them all with their books and magazines. His sons were excited about reading and about being there. It reminded me of when I was a little girl and me and my mom would walk to the library and check out stacks of books after my father left home and our electricity was eventually turned off due to non-payment. Those moments were more than about books; they were about inspiring creativity, a mother making a way out of no way, or just about getting to a destination with some lights!
When I think of Borders closing, we are not just losing a storage house for books. We are losing some of our communities' most vital meeting places. I remember brainstorming sessions at the Borders in Hyde Park...job searching at the one in Beverly...book signings out in Matteson. I even conducted an interview with a soul singer sitting on the floor in the children's section of the Hyde Park Borders! So many memories.
And of course, I bought A LOT of books. Buying books is one of the things I most enjoy doing, maybe even more than reading them. I understand times are changing and "digital" is the 'in' thing, but for me nothing compares to actually holding and owning books. Going to a physical location to buy them--and not ordering online--is part of the fun.
So, where will fathers go to see their sons, or mothers go to keep their daughters from crying in the dark now? I've been spending a lot of time at the Barnes and Noble on Jackson & State, but it's just not quite the same...
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