Before you read this post - if you can focus on reading while music's playing, click right here to transport yourself through time and play "Asleep". You'll get some vibes straightaway.
Now that's playing. See how different everything is? I have a weird bond with the link of music to pieces of text or novels in general and the fact that this book in particular is so strongly linked to music from the time period that intrigues me the most, it's an exciting experience. The whole book changed so much in my head but I can't even put my finger on what exactly fascinated me about it. Considering it's a relatively short book in comparison to the majority of books I read, it feels especially elongated in my mind. All the characters seem to have lived in my head long before I've read the book, and even long after the last page unfortunately (or fortunately) came to an end.
I read the book quite a long time ago. I remember being exposed to it when I was around 12 I think (And I'm 15 now so that's not "quite a long time ago" but to me, it feels like too much has changed unfortunately (fortunately?)) and it struck many chords. It planted new thoughts in my head and helped others grow and I felt like it was my secret. My little guide to everything written by a group of people that I've grown to love and know so, so well.
And every year since, I would read it. It became almost like a traditional ritual that I couldn't miss. Often I would pick it up whenever I feel like I need a lift or a reminder that life is a lot more than what it seems to be. Things do change and I wish I could describe what I learned from that book but I can't. All I know is that every time I read it, I felt like I was being drowned into waters that made drowning the most beautiful possibility I could imagine. I felt like little pieces of me were being torn out and lent to Charlie to write down all his letters on and given back to me, to keep. And I loved every painful moment of it.
I think...that what made the book so special to me was Charlie. Sam and Patrick had unbelievable effects on me and I know naturally the reader would sympathize and empathize with the protagonist but that wasn't the reason Charlie became one of the most important people to me. He was vulnerable, very and most people didn't even realize it because he worked so hard to hide it really well. I don't know if you often see yourself in characters and then subconsciously feel this meaningful yet irrational connection to them? I'm not quite sure what it is. But it's something.
Charlie taught me that it was okay so analyze everything. Despite him feeling obligated to participate, at the time I read the book I was constantly participating and having to shut down every little moment of analysis that I absolutely marveled over but never had the chance to enjoy. There was always something I had to be doing and that had to be done right. And all expectations - mainly academic and if family related were about the academic life I was willingly agreeing to because of my instinctual perfectionism - were screaming to get done and get done right. So the moments I enjoyed most, I didn't get enough taste of and this book, for the few hours I escaped to read it gave me a chance to just think of the seemingly great mysteries of everything, no matter how mundane it may seem to the average person.
Charlie begins his story, no actually he begins telling us about this small part of his story by saying that all the names are pseudonyms and many have jumped to assuming he was the 'unreliable narrator' and claim that perhaps you can't believe anything Charlie says after that. But this most definitely was not an English assignment to me. This was a human being who may have lived miles away from me but he was there and he was feeling these things and he was living and he happened to share this little piece of his life with me. I wasn't about to question his goddamn intentions. I loved Charlie and that is all that mattered.
Charlie has so much going on inside his mind. He's always thinking about everything and often finds it hard to suppress everything, because let's face it; that is tremendously hard. And he tries. He tries to the point where it brings me to tears. And wether it's my first read of the book or the 21st, it always does that to me. To know that he just wants to forget. He just wants to be happy and he finds those few moments of infinity when he's around Sam and Patrick because they opened his eyes to more, they made him feel like he belonged, made him feel like less of a bystander and more of a friend. And that means so much to him. They made him forget and he appreciated every minute of it. And that just brought the worst sadness down on me, like he was someone so close to me yet I was so distant to him, out of reach and couldn't be there to reassure him or just simply make him forget, even if it's just for a few seconds.
I've never spoken this much about this, mainly because i. most of the people I would tell would assume I'm overanalyzing the book as a whole and ii. I can never seem to get these words out loud. I can't organize them in my head and I feel like no one will get the full image of what I'm trying to explain but merely one hazy glimpse at the entire chaotic artwork in my head. But I have written about it so much that every time I type out his name, the bond feels like it's tightening.
I hope you got more than the hazy glimpse.