My goal in blogging is usually to inspire, uplift, heal, educate, or at least entertain. But today I’m simply sharing loss. (And with it, sharing my sole YouTube at the end of this post).
Capitola Book Cafe, my favorite independent bookstore, (and overall favorite store in my county), closed it’s doors yesterday after 34 years in business. Oh, I saw the writing on the wall. It wasn’t subtle. They even rallied a couple of years back with a big event to get feedback on how to survive; they almost closed at that time.
My heart is broken, lamenting a place which I frequented for decades. Where I saw talks by many of the most amazing people on the planet. And where I’d always feel that comforting “Aaaah” cozy feeling…as I’d so often stop in to get my bearings, to “feel right again” when out doing errands in this suburban mall laden and traffic-consumed part of town.
From talks by Jonathan Franzen to Cheryl Strayed, Geneen Roth to Mitch Albom, this place rocked the big names…yet was always the place with a heart. The place of community. The place that would host local authors, new authors, book talks with wine tastings or musical performances or a baby held in the the arms of an author as she spoke. Even the place that supported local creatives in other ways, such as having writing workships, or the largest array of greeting cards by local artists. The place to go and browse, have a hot drink, some quiet, a cozy “Yes, life is good” feeling. Even long before wifi, the place was so inviting—and so cutting edge decades ago by having a café within—that authors such as Alexandra Kennedy used to sit in the café and write their entire books there!
A few years ago, our large wonderful metaphysical bookstore closed its doors. For a county like mine, where “Metaphysics ‘R’ Us,” this was an enormous loss. Nowhere to browse the latest books on meditation or subtle healing techniques, find feng shui materials, buy photos of Hindu saints? Nowhere to go and hear the wonderful less-than-mainstream authors and stunning healers? At times, its absence still jars.
That gap left only 2 remaining major (thankfully independent) bookstores in the county; now the one left is in the downtown area. Which, in this intellectually curious university town, will probably (hopefully) never be allowed to die. (Tellingly, a big box bookstore did go out of business when they opened down the street from the independent one).
However, the Capitola Book Café, was allowed to die. This locale, situated instead in “mid-county”—served the thousands of us who did not always want (or need) to make the trip “into town” to buy a book, hear an author, have some conviviality with other bookies, or just chill. It was so much cozier, so much more warm, inviting, welcoming to me, so much more my HOME than any other bookstore—or store—for that matter. It had an unpretentious sweetness absent from any other bookstore in this area. And yet, they also hosted the lion’s share of most amazing renowned authors over the years. How could such a wondrous place exist…and then, unbelievably, cease to exist?
The loss speaks to much that others have written far more eloquently about—community, reading in general, books printed on paper instead of electronically, independent bookstores disappearing. So I will leave my own sharing to the more personal remarks you’ve just read, and my video below.
This video, along with my surprise beginning, gives just a teeny taste of some of the hundreds of wonders I experienced at the Capitola Book Cafe. I was invited to read at a celebration of the bookstore with New York Times bestselling author Ann Packer along with other community members. (Ann leaned over to me after my sharing and told me she loved it! She was, I could see, clearly being sincere. Though of course flattered, I was just sharing from my heart).
And my best friend said it was like a love letter. Yes, I loved you, Capitola Book Café. What will fill the gaping hole in my heart? I truly can’t yet imagine life without you.