I wrote the following post before they figured out how they might stay in business, so it has an elegiac feel to it. I'm still posting it, though, because it was one of the strangest things that ever happened to me, and anyway I liked writing it. So there.
Despite the fact that I get my most of my books at Dark Carnival, which is closer, I always liked heading out to Borderlands for a signing or just to see if they had something new. Their staff is extremely helpful and enthusiastic, and they don't seem to have succumbed to cynicism or just plain exhaustion when dealing with customers. (Believe me, I've worked at many bookstores and know whereof I speak. There's the customer who says, "Hey, I'm glad this is out -- now I can order it from Amazon." Or, "I can't remember the title, but it's a mystery and it has a red cover." Or…) And they always seemed to have the book I was looking for, even if I didn't know I was looking for it when I got there.
My strongest memory of Borderlands, though, is of leaving the store one night after some event. I remembered I'd left my car on Hazel Street, two streets over, and I set off to find it. But, weirdly, there was no Hazel Street when I got there. Maybe, I thought, it was really three blocks over, or two blocks and then a left turn…
After I'd searched a while I headed back to the store, feeling puzzled. Jude Feldman was just closing up, but she stopped what she was doing and took out a map of San Francisco. And -- there was no street in the entire city called Hazel Street.
I went back to where I thought I'd left the car and walked around some more. Then, footsore and bedraggled, I headed back to Borderlands. Jude was really closing up this time, no fooling, but she very graciously let me use their phone to call Doug so he could pick me up. "Go home and go to sleep," she said. "You'll probably remember where you parked in the morning."
And of course she was right. I woke up during the night and remembered pulling over two lanes to snag a parking space (parking is very tight in the area), so I had to have parked on a main street. We headed back the next morning, and drove around, and there it was, on Guerrero Street.
Only -- what was Hazel Street? I have no idea. I am terrifically talented at getting lost -- I've been lost in Venice and Jerusalem, and once I went up what I was convinced was the World Trade Center's Tower A only to come back down and realize that it was Tower B. (I actually spent some time staring up at the towers, looking for a bridge between the two, which was the only way I could explain it.) But I'd never invented an entire street before.
Perhaps the store created a kind of weirdness black hole, that drew strange things into its gravitational field? It makes as much sense as anything else. Anyway, I was very grateful for Jude's kindness, and the welcoming atmosphere at Borderlands.