An old musty book will always have charms, but one whose front page has a date handwritten in ink wields a strange special power that yanks me back to a past. Not my past. Not your past. Somebody else's past. That person who owned this same book that rests in my hands once had a strong urge to mark and reflect on a time that is dead. Days long ago can't help but die out like a species whose end is unfortunate but still real. Time takes everything, eventually.
June 2, 1962.
That's the day in red ink that is written on the first fresh white page of an old copy of D.H. Lawrence's Women In Love I picked up in Baguio a few weeks ago. In neat, legible script. A women's script, is what I'm thinking. Some stranger who I'll never meet once had a new book, and wanted to write that day down for some reason that's lost.
I'm already mourning. Who, I'm not sure, and what, I don't know. My father was thirteen, almost fourteen years old on that day. My mother not much older. Me, not yet here. It was a day that I'm sure had some sunshine to lighten one's mood. The book's owner was looking for a something quite serious. You don't dip in and out of D.H.Lawrence. I hope he or she found what was needed and wanted.
1962! The Beatles were not yet the Beatles we know. John Kennedy was still alive with the hope of all hopes. The moon was a crater we'd not yet embraced. Vietnam just a country, and a far away one at that.
Oh, I wish this woman had jotted down her first name, and not just the date. (In my mind she's a woman, young and carefree, her school year all done, the summer arrived with a blaze of bright sun.) She may still be out there, this woman. If she was, let's say, twenty at the time of her short simple jot, she now would be sixty-eight years old, with most of her life already lived and endured. She is no longer young, but I can imagine, today, at this moment, she is reading. In her bed. On the couch. Content. Anonymous, but alive.
As I type these words on this screen, quickly, in order not to forget what I so want to say, I hope she feels a strange twinge in her head or her heart. A jolt from her past, from her hand in mine and back once again. That same hand that held a red pen with a strong central grip. An odd psychic shock may give her a zap. Women In Love, she'll think. Why, I haven't thought about that book in quite some time.
And then she'll stand up and stretch and pour her parched throat a good glass of water. Just a thought, passing. But enough of a moment to link us somewhat. That book is still here, I hope that instant can whisper, not in words but in essence . It's still here, and so am I, and so are you.