Sifting through the journals I’ve kept since I was a teenager, I wondered if teenage girls even do that anymore. Or do they just blog instead? Probably. God knows the security/privacy settings you can set your blog to beat the snot out of thin, cheap, metal locks most vulnerable to snooping mothers armed with bobby pins. I can’t tell you how my times I got busted by listing the details of my juvenile-deviant plans in a diary, and then hiding that diary poorly. “Tonight I’m going to jump out my bedroom window and take the 10 PM bus to Seattle to sneak into an underage nightclub – that I’m underage for – and be offered numerous illegal substances while I make out with a boy and have no idea how to get back home. Being fifteen is great!” And this is why I was grounded most of my adolescence.
And as many journals as I have, I’ve thrown an equal number away. A lot of the time I just can’t stomach reading how deaf, dumb and blind I was. I find myself yelling at the yellowed pages of my diary the way someone watching a horror movie might try, in vain, to warn the hapless, half-naked girl that’s about to get messed the frack up. “Don’t go in there, you stupid bitch! That fool has a machete AND a chainsaw!” There were many metaphorical fools with emotional machetes and psychological chainsaws, and I was an extremely stupid bitch – in the literal sense. It’s hard to read. It’s why I second-guess my various forays into the blogosphere, and it’s why I much prefer writing my memoirs. My hindsight is positively lasik!
But, what isn’t uncomfortable to read, what’s actually fascinating to revisit, are the day planners. I’ve kept almost every day planner I’ve owned since 1992! And, without being conscious of it, I’ve gifted myself with nearly two decades worth of little time capsules. A receipt for renting my apartment in 2004 ($525.00), an old business card from the hot Hispanic boss I had a secret crush on, doodles from jr. high buddies, random trinkets, how little I once paid for car insurance – the minutia of your everyday gone by. The things you forget.
Exploring these remnants felt like an archaeological dig through my own life. I noticed appointments I had casually jotted down that later became important events: the morning I visited my grandmother in the hospital for the last time, the day I found out I was pregnant, the night I met “the one”. But what struck me most were the names, phone numbers and addresses that didn’t make it into subsequent datebooks. In each edition some names drop off, new names appear. I looked for a long time at the names of the people I regret falling out with, and longer at the names of those that died. But it didn’t bring me sadness (like the damn journals), only gentle reflection. These snapshots of my years spent on planet Earth, they are absolute treasures.
I still keep private, hand-written journals (always thinking I’m not a “stupid bitch” anymore) but I stopped using daily planners in 2008. And, suddenly, I’m very upset with myself for that. I think I’ll be buying a new one immediately!