When I was, oh, maybe 16, I went to Borders to seek out the CD box set of Andrea Chénier, an opera by Italian composer Umberto Giordano. [Side note: I believe my great-grandparents were Giordanos so I’ve just decided I’m related to this guy.] Borders was our local bookstore, funny to think of it now, the kind of “big box store becomes vibrant community space with no viable independent option” and it’s where I spent a good portion of the money I earned folding khakis at the GAP. It was sad to come back to my hometown and see the hulking shell of the two-story brick store on Broadway the past few years. Now, weirdly, it’s a kind of cheesy-looking marketing agency, and an independent bookstore has finally come to town, just across the street.
OK WAIT this wasn’t supposed to be about Borders. But it is sort of about Borders. You know how they had all those coupons? Buy one and we will shove nineteen free ones in your hands? You know how they had everything? It felt like they did. They’d order it for you from another store if they didn’t. I know, I should’ve gone to the library more often (I did almost exclusively before I had a job), but I kind of had this sense that every book or CD I purchased would be read multiple times or listened to on repeat.
This turned out to be largely true. My teenage years were a series of obsessive curiosities, one linking to the next. I’ve got such strong attachments, in my mind, to that Borders. Marching in there, on a mission. Tucked up in its corners. Trying on a million different skins, picking up a book that just might help me figure out which skin I’d eventually wear. The place where I spent my midnights decked out in house robes, waiting for Harry Potter with a giant crowd. Or years before, where I ran, after reading a borrowed copy of the Sorcerer’s Stone, to buy the Chamber of Secrets. There’s such a charged intimacy in that memory. It was November and it was already snowing and I devoured it. And the next one. And the next.
Love this, because yes — shaming people for loving things is truly the stupidest thing ever, and really, for me, loving things is the way I think about them and think about how to live my life and be who I am. I honestly don’t think it matters what you love — what matters is that you do, and that you let whatever it is about that thing work in you through that feeling. I’ll be damned if I’m going to feel the least bit ashamed of loving something.
And… the whole thing about girls being shamed for what they love and how they love it… seriously, my blood boils. My teenage years were just the start of a lifetime full of obsessions with various things that caught me and arrested me and forced me to concentrate on them. I have always fallen in love with fictional characters and worlds. I have never been temperate in my preoccupation with the things I love, and it has not hurt me ONE BIT. In fact, those engagements are the spaces where I think and realise and process and learn. Every one of those preoccupations have been of immense and immeasurable value to me.
Anyway, this is a soapbox I could rock pretty hard. Love the shit you love, ladies, don’t let anyone tell you there’s a goddamned thing wrong with it.