A friend of mine told me that Macondo Books in Guelph was going out of business, and were having a sale this weekend. I went, not just for the sale, but to say goodbye.
Maybe that sounds corny, but it’s true. I always found at least one great book every time I went there, and the environment itself was welcoming. It never smelled musty, it was bright, and there were books stacked on every possible surface, as proven in this photo I took in 2011:
I bought a few books, lingering in the store longer than was probably necessary, and then my husband and I walked around downtown on our way to lunch.
Two high school friends of mine went to university here, and during that time I made several weekend trips to visit them, both on-campus and off. Then I moved to Calgary, and my visits to town became nostalgic. One of those friends took me there a few years after graduation, and we walked around the university’s campus, noting all the things that had changed.
I don’t get to Guelph as often as I probably should, but I always have some sort of emotional response when I do. Usually it’s the aforementioned nostalgia, but sometimes I start to think about the educational path I took, about how I only ever viewed university life as an outsider. I’m happy with the way my life turned out, but my relationship with traditional education has always been complicated and knotty, and I think it always will be. But I’m getting too old for wistful what-ifs now, and in fact I’m starting to find them annoying. So while I’ll never believe the closing of an independent bookstore can be a good thing, to me it felt symbolic to visit Macondo for the final time.
For lunch, my husband and I went to a restaurant I’d never been to before. The diner my friends and I always went to for breakfast was closed for renovations. Some of my old familiar landmarks were gone or changed. I discovered a bookstore that wasn’t there last time I visited. Maybe there’s a little symbolism in those things, too. Symbolism all over the place! I would be a terrible writer if I didn’t go looking for it, right?