Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Here and Now

There's a book called The Power of Now. Back when I was taking The Artist's Way classes, the instructor told us that book should be on our reading lists. I found a copy at a thrift store or a yard sale and bought it - but never did read it.

I know I have trouble living "in the now." My head is always somewhere else... in the past, in the future, and seldom right in the now. I find that now that I REALIZE I'm getting older, my head is frequently in the past.

This was never more true than yesterday when I went to the Borders after work to see if I could snag a deal before they closed. When I first heard the news that Borders was closing, I instantly felt sad. I have so many good memories involving Borders - memories that came flooding back after I heard the news.

When I first arrived in Virginia, I met with an old Army friend and she took me to my first Borders. She knew I loved books, and said, "You will not believe this place. It's huge and it has a cafe inside!" She was right - I almost couldn't believe it. I was overwhelmed.

After looking around at books, we settled into the cafe with a sweet and a fancy coffee and caught up on each other's lives.

When I moved to California, there wasn't a Borders there yet... but soon there was, and I couldn't have been happier. I spent many a moment there, listening to music samples, browsing the books, drinking coffee... I had many first dates at Borders. And when I moved to Reno and founded a women's group, we had our very first meeting at Borders.

It was the one place my ex and I both enjoyed and could share - we didn't have too many of the same tastes when it came to shopping - but books were our second love, so we went there a lot after a meal out.

The news that Borders was closing wasn't a complete surprise - I had heard several stories on NPR in the last year about how badly they were doing. Yet, hearing the news that they were definitely closing hit me hard.

When I received the email on Friday stating their liquidation sale started on Friday, I decided I would go there right after work to have one last visit with Borders. The cafe was closed, and the parking lot was full. The line to the cashier was long and windy, but moving quickly.

I went to my favorite section, but was disappointed to discover that particular genre was only 10% off. I thought, "Gee, I can get at least a 20% discount at Amazon..." and then it really hit me why Borders was closing - and I don't think it's just because of eReaders. I know I'm not alone in preferring real books to eReaders.

No... it was that mindset - that "I can get this cheaper on Amazon" knowledge - that helped kill Borders.

Admittedly, I am pretty poor so in actuality if I buy a book, I buy it from a thrift store or a yard sale. But... there are times I can't find what I want, and so I'll buy a used copy off a vendor at Amazon - and sometimes a new copy is even cheaper than what a vendor is selling it for.

Then I realized I was part of the reason why Borders was killed - I, along with thousands and thousands of people - did not support Borders. Sure, I went there - I'd look at books, but then I'd write down the titles and check the prices on Amazon. Or I'd wait until I went to California to get a copy at Half Price Books - or wait until I could find a copy at a thrift store (I always knew popular releases would soon end up there).

After I was overcome with guilt, I saw a book on the shelf that I couldn't get from Amazon. In fact, Amazon had once placed the item in my Gold Box - I was about to get the book for 37% off. So I placed it in my cart and ordered it. Only, Amazon couldn't fill the order. First they said they ran out, and more were coming. Then, finally about a month ago, they said, "Guess what? We can't get any more copies of this book," and canceled my order.

And there it was - at Borders. So I got it. It was the least I could do - in fact, the very least.

When I left the store, I was teary-eyed. I found myself holding back sobs. Another one of my favorite stores closing - another sign of the times.

Yes, I'm getting older. The old and familiar dies. I am surrounded by the new and unfamiliar.

I don't like it - this getting old business really is not for sissies.

And for you Borders, good-bye. I'm sorry I failed you.

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