I was recently reminded that Borders Books & Music in Mount Prospect closed down six years ago last week. Wow. I spent fourteen of my seventeen years with that company in that location, and oh, what a time was had.
I hired as a bookseller at another store and became a trainer within months, and it was the perfect combination of structure and constant change for a high-energy, highly inquisitive polymath introvert who loves books. Transferring to a store I could walk to, rain or shine, put the frosting on my employment cake.
I got to talk books and music and movies and get paid for it. (Paid well, before the company morphed into a corporation and the decline began.) Even better, I got to travel and share my loves with peers and train others to the work. I love teaching, I do.
I worked on opening teams for over thirty stores here in the US and one in Melbourne, Australia, helped relocate at least three, and closed down two before the end. There were also stints in operations & inventory management, merchandising, and the office/HR/accounting position. Cafe manager and general manager were only two store hats I never wore–but I trained cafe staff and general managers, so there’s that.
It was the best job in the world before it became bad, and then it all went away. The change came like an earthquake, with many rumbles and shakes of warning that did nothing to buffer the shock of the final devastation.
That life-quake still feels like it happened only yesterday. It caused life upheavals both financial and emotional, and the loss exposed some major emotional issues I’d been crutching for decades. Just realizing how deeply I had been wounded took more than a year.
I often get frustrated because it seems like I’ve done so little since then. Then I add it up, and it doesn’t seem quite so bad.
Since that closing day I have written and published two novels, two novellas, four novelettes and a few short stories. In the process of that adventure. My bookselling experience served me well in new ways. I mastered basic book formatting, cover design, and publishing programs, learned to use social media socially, broke my foot, memorized long lists of information about butterflies, and dug lots of holes in my yard.
But wait, there’s more! I dove into audio book production and release too. Two new projects are in process, two are on the back burners, and seed ideas for yet two more are newly-planted in the fertile ground of my brain to await the proper time to sprout.
I have a busy new life. I have built a new identity. I love the person I am becoming.
But oh, the loss still aches. Some days, the scars on the roots of my heart still pull. And I still measure my accomplishments against what I built and did with Borders and I know–I know–I could be doing more.
So I will. In time.