This was one of my journals in junior high. I remember being impressed with its size, and with the fanciness of the gold-embossed cover. It made me feel like what I was going to write inside would be significant.
And it was a Borders journal. Surely if my journal was from a place where you could buy books, some mojo would derive from that, and what I wrote in it would be that much closer to having its own place on a bookstore shelf.
What I wrote in that journal was not significant, of course, to anyone but me, although I suppose I could at some point mine it for Mortified-style hilarity. But that’s not why I’m thinking about it.
I grew up in Ann Arbor when there was only one Borders. As I wrote here a few years back: There was an era when smokers could smoke inside. I remember reading Delia Ephron’s Teenage Romance: Or How To Die Of Embarrassment sitting on one of the wooden benches upstairs, at a time when I thought, daily, that I might. Later, when the Borders I knew had morphed into “Store One” during their first period of serious corporate expansion, a whole bunch of my friends worked there, and going to Borders became as much about visiting them as it was about browsing for new books.
And when I decided I needed to read more YA, it was the expertise of my Store One friends that put Weetzie Bat into my hands, which got me thinking, hard, about writing for teenagers.
I know, and many folks have written, that Borders went in some unfortunate directions over the years, but that doesn’t diminish how great it was at its best. Sympathies and good luck to all the smart and passionate booksellers who now need to find new jobs.