Tuesday, April 10, 2012


July 6th, 1993
The summer after 8th grade, wearing his favorite Ren and Stimpy t-shirt, Ruffin gave me The Little Prince with a note in the front written in his caddiwampus script: “You should really read this book – it's a guide for staying young.”  He had highlighted passages and contributed marginalia like, “Grown-ups suck,” “Grown-ups don’t understand fun things!” and “You don’t have to grow old.”  His urgency seemed apparent – we should stay young together.

November 1997
Our freshman year of college, wearing his frat boy uniform of khakis and a polo, Ruffin made a passing reference to our book.  While he had long before moved on to Catcher in the Rye and re-runs of Dallas, I returned to its safe pages, finally adding my own marginalized comments next to his:  “Grown-ups don’t believe anything we say,” “Grown-ups are weird,” and “Are we really going to get old?”  When I shared my revisions with him, his stare became blank and his voice matter-of-fact:  We all grow up.  My confusion now seems justified – what is the hurry?

April 9, 2007
I thought of our book while hanging a framed page carefully ripped from a copy of that book – “The Little Prince on Asteroid B-612.” I wondered how he didn’t fall off such a small rock, his proportion to his planet not seeming to make sense.  Elliott’s nursery, a reflection of storybook memories – Ferdinand quietly sitting in a field of flowers, George pushing the boundary of safety with a patient yellow-clad man, Carle’s caterpillar with an endless appetite - over six years after Ruffin decided once and for all on December 8th, 2001 not to grow any older, his writing in blue and red on various pages had already faded slightly.

April 9, 2012
All of these constrained objects, all of this constrained writing, and all of these constrained thoughts drove me back into the pages of our book again, tonight.  I have read this book many times and many other books since then.  But tonight, I notice something new:  the dedication To Leon – something I had never cared to see before – who lives in France where he is hungry and cold and who needs cheering up according to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Most importantly, All grown-ups were once children – although few remember it.  He makes me feel lucky to have small reminders.

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