"For Christa, Be true to yourself always. Keep writing, for you bear the key to your heart. Love always, Annie Dillard."
I laughed and turned a little red.
"I can't believe I did that," I said.
"You did that?" he asked.
"I signed it with a fake message from Annie Dillard," I said.
"YOU did?" he was still confused. He thought Annie Dillard came to my college or stopped into one of the bookstores where I worked in my 20s.
"Oh yeah, totally," I said.
You have to remember we live in an age where Chuck and I don't recognize each other's writing. Especially not the decorative loop-di-loos I favored when I was younger. I only really know his writing if he's printing in all caps, like he did in his old comic strip. We were just talking about this the other day, actually. I'd said "If you had told me when I was 12 that I wouldn't recognize my forever person's handwriting ..."
"I mean, look at the writing," I said.
"It does look painstakingly done," he said. "Are you sure you didn't meet her?"
"Yes. I've never met Annie Dillard," I said.
This was like a fantastic message that 21-year-old me sent to 36-year-old me. I think it's hilarious. It's so something I would totally do. I like inside jokes with myself and that's what it must have been. I would never do that to trick someone; I would do it to crack myself up, though. Down the line.
I can picture myself sitting in the on-campus grill, bored and doodling, waiting for my chicken fingers. Probably wearing bib overalls with a flannel shirt and thick Sketchers and snapping my gum. I open this book, grab a pen, fake inscribe it, chuckle and never imagine that there will be a time when I don't remember the circumstances of writing it. Good one, young Christa. I approve.