10 years later I was astonished when a man I was seeing had never read it. He who had taught me so much about life had not read this book which had made it on many "top book" lists.
I found a ratty, much loved copy of it one day in a book store near my place in a small town I was living in. I brought it home, wrote a note in it and left it on his pillow for him to find. I was brought up with the understanding that one does not give a book as a gift without writing in it first. As I think back to it now, I don't remember what I wrote. I do remember it being off center and a bit long though. That's my usual style though... I can't help it, just me being me.
Time passed, things came and went and life changed.. years later I was sitting at my desk at a new job and in a new place in my life. A package arrived for me at work and after recognizing the writing on the wrapping I waited days before opening it. When I finally did inside I found a time capsule of memories, things that I had forgotten and grown past. Most of it I didn't bother with, some old photos I'd forgotten about, a CD I still haven't played, a note I didn't really read and the copy of The Catcher in the Rye. I'll admit... my stomach did a little flip and my heart sank a bit.
I flipped through the pages and came across my note I had written a few years earlier which was now was accompanied by a note of his own. I read it and re-read it and then took it and put it away with the rest of the past. This book had become a bitter vessel of communication between us. I didn't need it in my life.
A few more years later I battled silently one afternoon as I sorted through my heaps of books. One pile to go to the used book store, the other to keep. I put The Catcher in the Rye in the "used book store" pile and moments later took it out and put it in the "Keep" pile. Taking it out again I put it back in the "Used Book Store" pile and back again to the "Keep" pile. I flipped so many times that to this day I don't know if I kept the book or not. What I do know though, is I tried to be a Catcher in the Rye and it didn't work and somewhere there is book with a piece of my story in it.
Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.