When I received the unfortunate news that Borders Bookstore would close its doors, I tried to ignore it. They may be closing other stores, but not my neighborhood Borders! They couldn’t be, in Silver Spring, Borders was a hub, a gathering place, a little home away from home, no way could my beloved Borders close. I’m really a vintage, used, mom and pop kind of bookstore gal, but Borders was special for me and my daughter. I first moved to Silver Spring when Anya was barely two. I was a newly single mom and going through some tough transitions. The one reason I chose this area was the convenience of walking to bookstores, restaurants, movies, and a host of other entertainment outlets. I needed to be surrounded by things to keep myself occupied through my breakup and the death of my grandmother.
When we’d visit Borders, the employees were warm, friendly and they loved Anya. Some of the employees who knew her when she was in diapers still work there. They always welcome her with a big hug and even set stuff aside for her. We spent many days at their coffee shop with Anya eating blueberry muffins and me sipping on an ice cold vanilla latte. We’d sit cozily in the kids area, reading books (and buying them too!) totally immersed in our own little world. It was a refuge of sorts and I’ll always be grateful for the peace it gave me through some rough times. Borders was good to me and my daughter and a host of other in our neighborhood.
What disturbs me is how books are becoming obsolete in our virtual world. I understand the convenience of downloading a book, but are we taking a gift away from our children? You can even read the bible online! Is that bad? No, but think about the experience of sitting in a cozy armchair with your child turning the pages of the bible, seeing the earmarked pages, reading the words it is a priceless moment between mother and child. Walking through the aisles of a used bookstore and experiencing the smells, the worn pages and picking up books that have been read by others creates a history of a book in itself. This is what bookstores and actually reading a book outside of being online provides.
I want my daughter acquire a love for books and this is why before she could even speak I’ve read to her and took her to bookstores. The result is my daughter reads at five and I think she can appreciate why bookstores are so unique. Are we losing touch with the simple things in life all for the sake of convenience? Is the online world slowly stealing these experiences away from us? I think the online world in some ways takes away the personal connection that God calls us to have with one another. It goes beyond a bookstore closing. How often do we just send an email or text instead of picking up a phone and saying hello? How many hours do we spend online rather than with the people we love? In the midst of all this technology at our fingertips, I believe a human element is missing.
I got a pang in my heart today seeing the yellow and black glaring 10-40% off signs and the chairs piled up in the coffee shop. When I walked through their doors the customers seemed somewhat melancholy, shaking their heads saying how sad it was. One guy I knew said he felt like he was at a funeral. My daughter and I walked through the aisles and purchased some books, but it wasn’t the same. I can’t say I was excited about the discounts because it came at a price, the closing of a wonderful nook we will deeply miss. I plan to spend more time there as the end draws nears to say goodbye to some wonderful people. It’s amazing how we can get attached to those things in our community and how devastating it is when we lose them. My five year old cried when she realized her favorite neighborhood hangout will no longer be there and wants to have a fundraiser to keep them in business! Unfortunately, we can’t save Borders so I’ll bid adieu and keep the memories and make it a personal goal to keep my daughter’s love for books alive along with fostering the importance of spiritual, personal and community connection.
Copyright © Chere Williams, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved