Dearest Watership Down,
Today I felt moved to tell you exactly what you mean to me. Sure, like so many lasting relationships, we got off to a bit of a bumpy start. But I know you understand -- I was so young when we first met! My dear Grandma introduced us when I was only eleven. She was so confident we were soulmates. But me? I wasn't so sure.
I studied your plain beige cover with little on it but your title and a rabbit in front of some sort of compass. Where were the girls in pretty dresses? I began to suspect that you did not hold for me orphans, or girls who wanted to be ballerinas or gymnasts or figure skaters. I was suspicious that you would not tell me love stories or about settler girls who were kidnapped by Indians and would come to love their way of life so much they would refuse to return home to their white families. What could a bunch of rabbits possibly hold for me?
But I gave you a chance, for Grandma's sake. I knew she loved me and only wanted the best for me. I would give you a fair chance and then gently break it to her that, though you were a really nice book, there just wasn't that spark. But you, my dear novel, had other ideas. I soon discovered that buried under that boring beige cover was an adventure story unlike any other. Who knew rabbits could be so fascinating? Well, you did, of course, and Grandma too. I read through your 400+ pages in record time. I was already a voracious reader, but you. . . you I devoured! When I was done, I wanted to start over from the beginning and read you again. I couldn't believe our journey together had ended so quickly.
And so it came to be that I found myself turning to you again and again over the years. I have read you at least once a year since I was eleven, making our relationship over two decades old now. I have long since read that boring beige copy of you to pieces and replaced it with an up-to-date version that is more aesthetically pleasing. And then I read the cover right off that one too. I am not sure how many copies of you I have gone through, and still, no matter what you look like on the outside, you never fail to spark that passion once more.
My mother gifted me a beautiful hardback version of you for Christmas one year when I was in college. It sits on the highest shelf of my bookcase, safe from clutter and cats and where I can gaze up at you lovingly whenever I am in the room. I purchased your sequel on a whim. I hadn't even know it existed until I saw it on the shelf of a discount bookstore that was going out of business. I was so broke at the time, being a student and all, but it was $6 well-spent. It only made me love you more -- not because your sequel is as good as you, but because it is an extension of you, giving me more time with your beloved rabbits.
Over the years you have been there for me. You comforted me when Grandma passed away, and I was living alone in Boston going to grad school. I didn't know a soul and couldn't afford to fly home for the funeral, but you, dearest one, were there waiting to comfort me through my tears. You gently reminded me of so many of the wonderful memories I had of her, and how it is impossible for me to pick you up and hold you without thinking of her.
You have been there for me as I struggle day in and out with this desire to be a writer. I aspire to write something that someday might ignite the same passion in someone else that you ignited in me. Oh to dream! You began my love for adventure stories and tributes to you are constantly finding ways into my stories, often so subtly, only I know they are there. But you, you will always recognize them and know I am only trying to find new ways to say I love you.
There have been some who have questioned my love for you.
"It's about rabbits?"
"Yes! A wonderful adventure story about rabbits. It's an epic tale!" Yes, I gush. Can you blame me?
"But what's it really about?"
I resent this implication that you are hiding something from me. That you were meant for bigger and better things than rabbits. That you have some hidden agenda that could change my feelings for you.
My response is always the same. "It will always just be about rabbits to me."
And today -- today my love for you was validated.
You see, modern technology has a way of changing things, and I was recently introduced to the joys of owning an e-reader. It is all just about convenience of course, as I still love the feel and smell of a good book. But now I get to carry so many with me. Some are good friends, some are good friends waiting to happen.
But today I couldn't focus on any new novel I tried. Nothing was clicking for me. I felt restless and couldn't get more than a few pages into any novel waiting in my queue. I realized that I was missing you. I checked the online bookstore and there you were, waiting for me, at the surprisingly high price of $12.99. Well, this was a dilemma. I have never paid more than about half that for a paper copy of you. Which of course I have waiting at home for me, waiting to be read for the umpteenth time at no additional cost. And most e-books are much cheaper than you. But most books do not hold the memories and joy that you hold for me. It was a battle between my desire to limit unnecessary purchases and a desire to have you with me at all times.
Of course you won. But you knew you would. My love for you is just too strong. And you rewarded me. The minute I opened you up, I was greeted, not with that familiar line about the primroses and the sight of two rabbits about to follow a premonition into a life altering journey, but instead, by an introduction by your author. Now I may have owned copies that Mr. Adams has written an introduction to before. But before I was always too eager to catch up with you and flipped past any unnecessary pages to fling myself heart and soul into you. But today, on my e-reader, I read the words he wrote about you. And I knew he had written them for me. In the very last line of his introduction, he confirmed with I always knew. "It is simply the story about rabbits. . ."
Thanks to Mr. Adams, my love for you is stronger than ever. I knew you wouldn't lie to me like that. He confirms that you were never meant to be an allegory or a parable. He created you for his daughters.
And for me.
I am looking forward to many more decades together.
With all my love,
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