growing up in Mexico my required high school reading was very different from the American one, we didn't read Shakespeare, but Cervantes for example, etc. so Salinger came late into my life
i remember back in 2003, 2004, i was living very harsh times in San Diego, i was unemployed, broke, and going through a mid-life crisis, having to roommate with a dear friend in order to be able to pay the rent, but it was not only the money situation, but in general my personal life, i was angry, confused, looking for direction without even knowing it... so one day, looking for meaning and help, i went to Downtown Mental Health, i got a shrink for free and antidepressants and sleeping pills, the whole American dream, sort of speak... the place was rather depressing, i was the "happy" case of the institution, if you ever dare to step your head on a government free mental health facility, you'll see that there is mostly homeless people there, hard-core drug addicts, old people with Alzheimer, and very sad cases, but i wanted some direction, some help... and it was on those days that i read The Catcher in the Rye... couldn't think of better timing, me rebelling to the world, looking for direction, Holden rebelling to society, to adults and life... i remember reading the book outside the mental health facility while waiting for my shrink appointments.... it was delightful, full of crisis and bad moods, i was my own Holden!!!
those days are long gone, and thank God i got off those pesky antidepressants and sleeping pills earlier than hooked, i used them for barely 7 months, and i was very happy to realize i didn't need any pills to be myself... yet sadly psychiatrists and psychologists, specially the ones handling the bulk of humanity give you pills rather easily, in my case, i just needed to get over myself, exercise, find a job, and go on with my life, instead of barking at it endlessly... as i thankfully did, & surely "with a little help of my friends", thankfully...
anyway, i learned much from those days, i went through things that i didn't have to face while i was growing up in Mexico City where my mom was always there to rescue me, i wouldn't change those days... and now i only need a couple of yoga meditations, a long walk, a good song, & an occasional carrot cake (or apple pie with some hot black café or a delightful black té) to calm down & smile at life, and myself
but oh dear! how i miss sometimes the personal drama, not that i look for it anymore, but those intense feelings, even if awful, were rather deep, it was an exhausting adventure to be myself, day after day... and, overall i miss Holden, feeling so loony like him those days
rest in peace J. D. Salinger, i thank him for creating this full-of-Angst teenager, with who we can all relate, specially while questioning the crazy 'order' of society, all the strange things that happen in this world, and the rules we impose ourselves, for portraying so well those days when you really "are in trouble" and the impermanency of things, of life...
Salinger is dead, yet Holden Caulfield will forever live in the hearts of any tortured souls, teenagers like him, or old like me, out there
here a couple of my favorite Holden quotes
"What I like best is a book that's at least funny once in a while...What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."
"Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell."
"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."
-J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield