Friday, January 14, 2011

The Last Page

Winter is good for two things at the House of 42 Doors. First is considering ways to insulate the house. Second is trying to catch up on reading. Most of the books I read are not interesting enough to warrant a post. The most recent two I remember reading were 52 Loaves and Billionaire's Vinegar. I picked them up for $2 a piece and they were well worth that.

At the moment I have a book sitting on my nightstand that keeps staring at me - literally. It's The Last Page by Anthony Huso. I'm having a hard time cracking the cover. Tony and I went to college together and I have fond memories of being part of a role-playing group he put together. I also have many memories (not quite as fond) of Tony beating the pants off of me in countless Magic The Gathering duels (I still have boxes full of cards thank you very much).

One of the things that Tony gave to me in college was a very, very early copy of the Last Page. I read it and thought at the time that it was undoubtedly as good as anything published I'd read. I told him as much and in retrospect, a more critical response probably would have been more helpful. (Sorry Tony).

At the end of our senior year, everyone went around promising to keep in touch and trying to exchange whatever phone numbers or addresses we had, which is to say almost none. Most people were just looking for a job and we were scattering to the four corners of the earth. When I asked Tony for a phone number, an address, or even just a promise to keep in touch, he said to me, "What's the point? We go through life, encounter people, make friends, enjoy the time and then move on. If we run into each other in the future, we'll talk then."

I was put off by this at first, but the more I thought about it, the more wisdom I saw in it. No false promises, no expectations, just the freedom of knowing that time spent together was enjoyed and that if life sees fit for the two of us to meet again, there needn't be any awkwardness.

Tony and I have danced around each other a few times since college. I saw him once in the late 90's for a very short amount of time. We caught up, but I had to run to some other engagement and couldn't stay as long as I wanted. Then he was in France while we were in Ireland, and Ms. Huis and I discussed visiting him, but before we could, he moved back to the States. I've kept tabs on where he is and what he's been up to through mutual friends and his blog.

Now after so many years, I find myself pondering this version of The Last Page. In some ways it appears to be very different from the early copy I read, and yet I can also see from the jacket and from the reviews that it is essentially the same story. For some reason, I've made reading the Last Page into some sort of symbolic act, one that carries a host of past memories, years of lessons learned and ironically, exactly the sort of baggage that Tony's advice was meant to avoid.