Day 5: Face-bucks and a sad goodbye

I ended my week-long hiatus of Facebook and Starbucks… at the same time. I had coffee with my daughter L and two moms from the kids’ gymnastics studio while the older two were at gymnastics. I’m sure the moms laughed at the glazed look in my eyes, sipping frappuccino while updating my status. I was giddy…

And a bit bummed. After being without those two time-and-money wasters for a week, I thought I’d feel renewed and energized from using both. AT THE SAME TIME.

Then I realized that I didn’t miss Face-bucks exactly. I like the way they make me feel. Connecting to friends I haven’t seen or talked to in years, even if it’s a quick hello. Reading about funny, silly, or even sad experiences. Staying up-to-date on a friend’s health. The resignation of admitting that a break is needed and treated with caffeine.

So thank you, Face-bucks. We had a great run together all of these years and while I’m not breaking up with you forever, let’s be friends with benefits. How about a weekly rendez-vous? No more, no less. Face-bucks Fridays, it is.

Another goodbye I said today was without humor.

Walking into any bookstore brings me so much joy. I love being surrounded by the written word, the smell of expresso wafting in the air. My teacher ego is satisfied with wandering people in search of entertainment and learning through books and magazines.

But today was different. Today L and I walked into Borders.

Though we have only lived in this city for three years, my family and I were frequent visitors to Borders. We got to know the staff quite well, including one barista who made the best goddamned mocha in the world and shared pictures of her growing newborn son. One of the employees even recognized my husband with whom she went to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey twelve years ago!

We walked into the store this morning and everything was different. While no one was rude, it just didn’t feel the same. I hung my head in sadness like everyone in the store.

I know there are those who feel, like in that Tom Hanks movie “You’ve Got Mail”, that these giant superstores like Borders are shutting down independent bookstores just as book series like Goosebumps or the Babysitters Club are detrimental to children. But people need to start where they feel comfortable. Borders, giant superstores, Babysitters Club… they grow readers who will shop anywhere and everywhere for a good book.

I never felt like our Borders was a chain bookstore. On the contrary, it couldn’t feel more personal. Many employees knew me by name, asked how my husband was doing, and when I showed up without my little ducklings in tow, they smiled and told me to enjoy my time alone.

And that’s how I felt in there today. Alone.

I held L’s hand just as I did every time we went to the preschool storytime and stood in the building where I spent so many hours getting lost in a mocha and a book. Where M found the first in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and voraciously read each one in forty-eight hours or less, begging to go to Borders to get the next one. Where A practiced being in school, listening and following my directions, learned to sit quietly for storytime, and found new friends. Where L packed her huge backpack that was bigger than her each week so she could carry her snack of string cheese. Where my husband and I would spend part of our alone time, looking for new authors and books that our friends were reading.

Where our family of readers and thousands of other families have been nurtured for years.

There you have it: the beginning of Face-bucks Fridays and the sad ending of our time at Borders.

NOT dedicated to the new owners of Borders who chose to liquidate everything. May you get an itchy rash that is only curable by finding jobs for all Borders employees and filling Borders-less communities with huge library grants.

4 thoughts on “Day 5: Face-bucks and a sad goodbye

  1. There used to be 2 Borders stores in my city, the last one closed about 2 months ago. I’ve been mourning ever since! It never felt like a chain, and none of the other stores here come close to what they offered.

    • There might be rumors of another bookstore but like many California cities, our town has been hit hard by the economy. Many small businesses have closed. There are so many empty plazas and spaces and I hope the closing of Borders will not affect the shopping centers they’re in.

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