It’s summer but I spring cleaned my room this week, for what seemed to be the umpteenth time. It’s not that I’m messy. It’s a controlled chaos. Sometimes that controlled chaos gets a little frizzy, so I have to come around and tame it a bit, just like everyone else. Actually, not like anyone else but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because during this so-called “spring cleaning” I stumbled across an item that sent me reeling back to a time that once was. It was a book gifted to me by someone special in the days before me moving back home from CA. The book is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupery.
The book came to me initially by recommendation. I was at my local library at the time scanning isles, nothing really jumping out at me. One thing about me and my trips to the library, which could be either good or bad or neither really, is the fact that I never went in with a plan as to what I was looking for. I would just walk up and down the row of bookshelves, with hopes that the right one would jump out at me. On one of my trips searching for that right book, I accidentally (on purpose) bumped into my crush. Now, this tall glass of water worked there restocking books. By this point we hadn’t exchanged more than a few words here and there, and definitely some stolen glances. This particular day was the beginning of something special. After apologizing for the minor collision, he asked me if there was something in particular that I was looking for. I told him the method to my madness and in turn he asked me if I was open to any recommendations. I, of course, accepted. I would have accepted almost anything by him at this point, and that’s when he mentioned The Little Prince.
Typically, I do not judge a book by it’s cover, not in any aspect that you can apply that phrase to. Taking a look at the font cover of this one, however, made me doubt my desire to read this book. It did look a bit adolescent to me, but what did I expect when taking recommendations from an almost complete stranger. That same night I sat on my bed and began reading, and by early the next morning I was finished. I closed the book amazed at the fact that something so small could pack such a big punch.
I walked to the library the next day, all the while planning on how I was going to walk up to him directly, without any pretenses other than to thank him for the recommendation. It’s not everyday that someone impresses me with a good read, and so I walk in. I dropped the book into the “return” bin and scanned the library, wondering where he could be. Maybe in the non-fiction, historical section? Religious or Spiritual isle? Or maybe in the cooking section? I couldn’t find him, but it didn’t take him long to find me.
He asked me out on a date that day. I was over the moon. I had always thought I would meet the man of my dreams in a library, and walah! It happened. From the night of our first date, we were inseparable. I found a lot of joy sharing my time with him, as we both learned and experience so much with one another. The tragedy didn’t come for months later, but it was one that I saw coming, hoping in silence that it wouldn’t. I was to return back home after a year of not being able to get my life together there. It had all been so hard, much harder than I ever thought it would be. Jobs were scarce and those that I was able to obtain never lasted long. They were either temp jobs or paid peanuts. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how little I tried to eat, no matter the times I would sit in my home with all the lights off, trying to conserve any bit of electricity I could, I never had enough money to cover life in CA. I had two major heartbreaks that year, leaving CA, and leaving him behind.
After having to deliver the news of my return home, the weeks following that were filled with happiness draped in a woven quilt of sadness. We tried to make sure that we relished in every moment that we spent together, but as the days would turn into darkness, the feeling became more desolate, each day being one day closer to that of me leaving.
On the last day that we spent together, we did nothing remarkably special. We went to our favorite burger joint, the one where we went to the day after I first spent the night and morning with him. We rode around the neighborhoods in his El Camino, taking in the last bit of Cali streets I would be seeing in what I knew would be a long time, if ever again. That night we hung out in his bedroom, and after a while of listening to music and reminiscing of our times together he mentioned that he had something for me. I closed my eyes and once reopened, there in front of me, was the library copy of The Little Prince.
Fast forward to earlier this week when I was cleaning out my room, I began dusting the books that lined the walls of my bedroom. Dusting was something that I hadn’t done the last time I cleaned, which is probably why I hadn’t noticed the book there before. The moment I saw it and picked it up, my heart skipped a beat and slightly sunk. So many memories resurfacing, pulling at my heart, instances that I had thought I tucked away so many years ago. I brushed of the dusty cover and opened the book, and there on the inside cover was the quote…
“But she in herself is more important than all of you because she is the one I watered. Because she is the one I put a glass dome. Because she is the one I sheltered behind a screen. Because it is for her that I killed caterpillars (all except for two or three who were to become butterflies). Because she is the one I have listened to, complaining, or boasting, or sometimes when she says nothing. Because she is my rose.”
Immediately after reading this, I felt almost every emotion one can feel. Happiness and sadness. Anger. Guilt. After leaving CA, it wasn’t long when I had slowly started to cease communication with him. I had been depressed. I felt as though CA was such a painful experience that I just couldn’t continue to remember. I knew I had, too, broken his heart and I didn’t feel ok in knowing that by keeping in touch, I could be hurting him even more. Before I knew it, communication completely stopped, and even though I have since reached out on a number of occasions, our talks have never been longer than just a couple sentences.
By the time I wanted to try to save even a friendship, it had been too late. I lost him.
If I could tell him anything, I would tell him how sorry I was to have let our friendship go silent. I made a mistake by closing a chapter in my life that was too painful to continue reliving and by doing so, I lost one very important highlight of what once was a time so cold. I’ve never forgotten, nor will ever forget what it was to have a person like you on my team, making some of my best memories in CA being shared with one very special Little Prince, that one who got away.
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