I saw Where The Wild Things Are at the theater, sitting next to the teacher who not only taught me to read, but who taught me to read THAT book, all by myself. She and I are forever connected to that book, as well as Charlotte's Web. She read that book to me when I was in the 3rd grade over a period of about a month. As soon as we were done, I used my allowance and bought myself my very own copy for $1.95. Yes, $1.95. It was 1979.
Today, after I bought our tickets to see the movie and before we went in to get our seats, I sat Miss Shore down on a bench and explained to her that her being with me on this important day was a full-circle moment for me. I began my love of reading with her, my love of Wild Things and rumpuses and talking pigs and spelling spiders, and wanted to present her with a gift honoring everything she's done for me. I told her that it was only right that she have this now, especially on this day. She opened the box and found herself holding my original, 30 year old copy of Charlotte's Web - now yellow with age, the covers cracked and faded and missing corners - my childlike scrawl inside the front cover giving my address and phone number along with the promise of a $5.00 reward for returning it to me were it ever to be lost. The reward was intentionally more than twice what I paid for it, because it was that important to me.
I've read that book a thousand times. Literally THAT book. I've kept it as a thing of value and reverence for 30 years now. It has been a constant source of love and light for any number of reasons, and being that I'm on the cusp of starting my life all over someplace new, it was time to let go of something I'd held on to for this long. The story will never leave me. There was a time in childhood that my sister would impress her friends by holding the book, reading the first sentence on a random page, and watching their faces in astonishment as I could recite the remainder of the scene, word for word, from memory. I would animate all of the spoken dialogue as Miss Shore had, giving the words their heft and infusing them with life, and whenever I have read it in subsequent years it is always her voice I hear reading to me in my head - just as she did all those years ago. It's honestly the way I want it, the way it should be, and yet another reason why I love my life.
Nothing will ever be bad again.