A Quote for You. Yes, You.

The Things They Carried by Tim OBrienLast week I was in my local coffeehouse picking up a drink. While waiting for it to be made, I looked at their bulletin board, and among the flyers and business cards I found a small folded up note.

On the front, it said "A quote for you". On the back, "Yes, you". I love things like this, so I immediately pulled it down and opened it up.

Here is the quote I found inside:

Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.

Along with this quote was another message; a clue to a second note. A mysterious scavenger hunt! The second note would at my local public library, inside the book the quote was from.

First I had to find the source of the quote. Instead of just Googling it, I posted it on Instagram and Facebook in hopes of crowd sourcing the answer, but it turned out I was too excited to wait. The next day, I Googled the quote and found that it was from the book The Things They Carried by Tom O'Brien.

A few days later, I was able to take a half day off from work, so I went to find this book at the library. I picked it up, flipped through, and found a small piece of paper tucked inside.

It was not a second clue.

It was a short note about how the book affected the note-writer when (s)he was 16, and was signed "C".

For half of a second I was disappointed there was no second clue, but then I remembered everything I did that day...

Instead of getting a drink to go (as I usually would), I sat in the coffeehouse enjoying my latte while listening to music and people-watching. After my coffee, I walked over to the bridge that I first went to before I moved to town, but hadn't been to since. I watched the water flow down the river, and listened to the last of the leaves rustling in the trees. Not far past the bridge is the library I had been meaning to go to for the last year, but never made the time. I applied for and received the first library card I've had in years; another thing I kept meaning to do, but never make the time for before that day. After exploring the library, I checked out a book I wouldn't otherwise have even picked up (the story takes place in the Vietnam war, and war is a subject I generally am not interested in). Back outside and on the main street, I went into the partially-hidden nook of the local bookstore, sat on the comfy chair, and left my first note in the community notebook I'd recently discovered. Before going home, I explored an antique shop I'd walked by several times, but had never paid any attention to before that day. 

It was a perfect half-day off, with a lot of small but meaningful experiences that brought me closer to the town I'm still new to, and it happened because of that note I found in the coffeehouse. It was a scavenger hunt, just not the kind we're all used to.

On top of everything else that this stranger, "C", gave me that day, they also gave me a glimpse into their life and their thoughts. They shared something with me that changed them, in hopes that this thing would also affect me. I'm excited to find out.



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