February 7, 2010
Mr. J. D. Salinger,
We've had a torrid relationship, haven't we? You, Sir, were my first great love, my first great obsession. To this very day, you sit above me at my writing desk, looking down at my from the shelf above my monitor. Good relationships, like ours, last until the bitter end and then some.
I felt a little twinge at the news of your passing. Wasn't anyone standing in the rye to catch you as you ran past? Where was your dear Holden? Was he sitting, depressed, on a subway platform? Was he drinking coffee at a table, thinking how he just doesn't give a goddamn care enough to leave the house and actually go to the field of rye to save you?
My first introduction to you was when I was at the tender and impressionable age of 17. High School, the golden years as we are to refer to them. I had a major project to do in my English class, one that would be worth a big chunk of my grade and I was lost without an idea in the world. My teacher suggested "The Cather in the Rye." He told me to read it, to see if I liked it and if it did, he suggested I make a study guide for the book. He handed me a small, hardcover edition of the book. It was very new, with a somewhat out of place rainbow in the top left hand corner of the cover. The text with the title was black, thick and strong. I wasn't looking forward to reading it. I think the only thing that made me read the book was the fact that I had no other leads for this project. I laid in my bed at the end of the day and opened the book, making the promise to myself to just get through the first chapter and then make a decision tomorrow.
Mr. Salinger, I stayed up all night reading that damn book. I almost finished it over night. I was instantly drawn in and enraptured with it.
For a good eight months, I loved your book, Mr. Salinger. I read, and re-read and re-read again. I became a clone of Holden and even started to talk like him, saying goddamn all the time. I took that book with me everywhere and would open it to read passages I had marked, pages I had memorized. I was obsessed.
I feel in love with Holden, which many people may find a complete oddity. Holden - the cold and frustrated young boy. Holden, the depressed and soulful. I feel in love with him because I was so like him. Our pain mirrored each other and I never thought I would find a man as perfect for me as Holden.
The project was easy. How could you not find the time or inspiration to write about something or someone you desire, with your whole body. I was so smitten. I spent my evenings at home, after my project was done, turning your lovely book into a full stage production. I wrote the script by hand, copying your exact words, you very dialogue. I wrote "The Catcher in the Rye" along side you and understood it even more than I thought I could.
You could imagine my pain when I present the script to the schools drama department as was told I had a cold chance in hell of having the play produced - ever. My drama teacher, who loved the script, told me more about you and your desire to keep Holden tightly under your wing. I cursed you, wished you let your baby grow up and leave the nest. I cursed you. I could not understand how you could not want to share Holden with the world.
I put you away. I stuck "The Catcher in the Rye" up in my book shelf and left it there. I buried the script I wrote away in filing cabinet.
These things, these reminders of you, stayed with me through three moves and its only now, years and years later that I wonder about them. "The Catcher in the Rye" was re-read recently, maybe three or so years ago? But where is the script? I wouldn't have thrown it out, I wouldn't have. I haven't seen in in years. I was angry with you, but I don't think I could have throw it away. Could I?
It's only now, years later, that I understand your connection with Holden. I wouldn't have wanted to let him go into the world either. He's to pure of heart to survive the onslaught that would have come around him. I realize this now, as an adult. My obsession made me blind and for that, I ask forgiveness. I was to young and stupid to understand. I was too in love and too obsessed to see beyond my rose colored glasses.
It's clear to me now.
Rest well, Mr. Salinger.