After 25 years, the Exit light came on.

I’m not speaking metaphorically here.  I mean, quite literally, that after 25 years, the Exit light came on.

The sign had hung over the door at Between Books for as long as I’d been going there, and never lit up once.  A few days before the last day of business, something nags the corner of my eye and I look up to see the Exit sign lit with a sullen red glow.

Officially it was something the landlord had done while tinkering with the electrical system in the building.  It was, however, one of those odd moments of synchronicity that almost makes one believe that there’s more to the universe than random fluctuations of energy.

All things considered, it was a very Logan’s Run kind of moment.

Renew, renew; it’s time for Carousel.

The turnout for the last bash was exceptional, to say the least.  People made the time to come together to see the old place off with one hell of a bang.  I saw old friends reunited after years apart, new friendships kindled, and more than one grown man in tears trying to explain what the store had meant to him growing up.

And promptly asking when Greg would be reopening so that they could bring their kids in to the new store.

It’s the community that has always been one of the store’s greatest strengths, the community that has supported Greg during this difficult time, and the community that has spend the past couple months clamoring for details about the store’s return.

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people why so many have so much emotional investment in the store.  I suppose it’s that sense of belonging more than anything else, that knowledge that you could crack the most obscure bit of referential humor you can imagine, and instead of having to awkwardly explain the joke, you’d look up and realize that a good chunk of your audience was laughing along with you.

It’s something you’ll never be able to get on Amazon.  You can’t buy it.  You can’t even steal it.  You can join it, you can build it, and unfortunately you can lose it, but only if you choose to.  And I don’t think folks are remotely ready to make that choice just yet.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have volunteered to do whatever they can to help pack and move, the number of people who have promised to show up to set up the next space, page after page of names in the book of people who want to be notified of the store’s inevitable resurrection.

The community, clearly, has spoken.  And they’re not done yet.  Not by a long shot.

So this one is dedicated to the devoted clientele of Between Books.  And I urge you to remember that this is not the beginning of the end.  It’s not even the end of the beginning.  It’s just the end of a location.  More than any physical address, you are what make the store what it is.

The hub may be gone for now, but the wheel spins on.

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