I am obsessive about thank-you notes.
At least I used to be.
A few birthdays back I vividly recall receiving a particular gift of great personal significance.
As a lover of books, this gift was the book I longed for. Read by my closest friends, I had been forced to sit as a mere observer, a non-participant, as they gushed on and on about the wisdom, beauty and symbolism in this story wholly unfamiliar to me. It is a terrible thing to find yourself sequestered at a table with dear friends who are all feasting on a shared book experience while you sit alone in a group, eating your salad. While discussing key points in the book, my friends would occasionally cast furtive glances in my direction, much like visitors from America do when they are struck by extreme poverty in third world countries.
While opening my gifts at home I came across a gift bag. I removed the contents and discovered the coveted tome. I looked forward to breaking open the cover and inhaling the fragrance of fresh print while turning the crisp, unread pages. I was prepared to be changed.
However, I was unable to begin my book immediately, so I placed it down until I could set aside some time to sit in my favorite chair and ingest my new read.
When I finally was able to have an hour or so to myself I went to retrieve my book. I searched all of my "book" spots but was unable to locate it in any of the places normally alloted for a favorite book. Worse yet, I couldn't remember who blessed me with such a gift.
I began to worry that something evil was at work here.
I am responsible, so I sat down to write my thank you note to the person I believed gave me the gift and secretly hoped they would not ask how I was enjoying it.
Several weeks passed and I was still unable to locate my book. The funny thing was, I couldn't find the bag or the wrapping that my gift came in either and upon questioning my family I discovered that they had no memory of the book.
After receiving my thank you note, my friend apologetically said she was not the giver of the wondrous gift. She even called several of our mutual friends to see if it came from one of them. No one claimed it.
There was only one explanation.
My excitement about potentially receiving this book and the time spent hearing about the story had occupied so much of my existence it had become embedded in my subconscious.
I had dreamed the whole thing.
Worse than that, I actually wrote a thank you note to someone who didn't get me the gift that I never received.