The last day I go to school I don’t know it’ll be the last day, but I do have a pretty good hunch I’ll get bored, so I shove my copy of The Catcher In The Rye into my bag.
And I was right. I did get bored and I did need something that wasn’t a boredom only interrupted by scrolling figures of death tolls.
But here’s the funny thing about that book: whenever I read it I start to think like Holden Caulfield. In my first class a crazy teenage guy came staggering off the pages and into my mind, and he was not alright at all.
I sat and read, watched the people playing video games, texting, talking, finding various ways to make the impossible and unbelievable a bearable part of the daily lives it had forced its way into. We all held something in common now, how we were, and still are, unwitting rodents running in the wheel of history, the one that spins round and round and around, repeating itself whether we like it or not.
I walked home eating Mini Eggs, sucking the saccharine coating, half realising that I’d better enjoy that sugar-in-the-weak-sun snippet of pre-Easter, because it would be all I would get.
One hour later I was in my bedroom studying.
Two hours later there weren’t any exams left to study for.
By the next Monday everything was shut down, and it felt like someone had their finger jammed down on the multiply button of a calculator of mortality, as the death figures sprinted up.
Sometimes I wonder how long it would take my past self to realise that something was up if she were suddenly thrown into these days. Walking the streets, shuttered shops, closed down cafes, people swerving to keep out of each other’s air, red tape closing off playparks, supermarkets with plastic shields to protect cashiers. And this is history. People grabbing toilet rolls out of the hands of those who need them, people showing their best and worst – this is what future historians will study.
We all have something in common now, we all have Holden Caulfields in our heads, we all are watching the hope and the pain, the dolphins swimming up Venetian canals, those death tolls sitting in the corner of the room all the time. We all have flimsy plastic needles and we’re trying to sew what we hope for into a thick-wool tapestry called Fate.
Holden Caulfield is staggering around everything, and he’s frightened and frightening, and nothing is ever going to be the same again.
Some books stay with you forever. I’m sure we’ll always have this one in our memories, but months, patient months of staying at home, and we won’t be holding it in our hands anymore.
More than Holden Caulfield, we have hope.