I recently pulled a pile of journals out of the attic fill with volumes of teenage angst from 1989 – 2002. Reading through them made me feel like I was stuck in one long episode of My So Called Life. It made me a bit nostalgic for a time when my biggest worry was what boy liked me and which friend was being annoying. I actually started keeping the journals in my pre-teen years and continued through to my early adult years in college. Eventually I stopped keeping a written log of things and now this blog is my journal. So these days my private writings are on display for the world, along with a few commercial breaks for sponsored posts along the way.
A Written Legacy
What spurred on this great purge? A good friend passed away and I started thinking about my own legacy I might leave behind. And then I started thinking nobody ever needs to see all these pages of teenage ramblings, and two volumes in I was sure I made a very good decision.
Reading through these journals confirms I had a pretty good childhood. I wrote several nice things about my mom, was obsessed with getting a tan and growing my hair, and I think I detailed every boy I came in contact with and the possibility of whether he may or may not like me. Pages and pages about boys. The more I read, the more concerned I got for my friends with little girls that will one day be boy-crazy teenagers.
I also started thinking about famous diaries that had been found and published, and had a good laugh at myself and what an awful book these journals would make. At one point I even mused, in my journal, if these would be found and published “one day when I’m famous.” Thank goodness that never happened.
Revelations and Insight
As I read, I ripped out pages and shredded them. If I ran across something good, I took a photo and shared it with whomever I had written about. My mom was thrilled to read that I included her on my list of “People Who Inspire Me.” I texted my childhood BFFs pages that documented days chasing boys at the mall, when they got their first periods and all our big plans for the summer.
As I read and shredded, I started jotting down some comments and decided to immortalize the important bits I’d gleaned from the pages of my youth, right here on my blog:
To all the boys I ever dated, I loved you for at least a paragraph. Some of you even made it a few pages.
For the life of me, I cannot remember who this Ricky kid is I keep writing about in the summer of ’92. Sorry Ricky, I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
I ran across a line where I’d written really big, “Why am I so tired?” and nearly fell off my chair laughing.
Girl, you don’t even KNOW.
And NO, you do not want those bangs you keep wondering about and you’ll spend the next three months writing about how you’re growing them out again. Every. Time.
After reading pages and pages about sending query letters and being disappointed with no answer or rejection postcards, I wanted to go back and give my teenage self a hug and tell her not to give up. One day you’ll actually get paid to do this thing you love to do. Well, technically you’ll get paid to write about things like vitamins and salad dressing, but in-between that you get to write whatever you want, however you want.
Dear Keith, I’m sorry I don’t remember you either, but thanks for that Nirvana CD. I mean that. It was pretty awesome. I’m sorry I said you were boring. I liked your music choices at least.
I am cracking myself up with my lofty goal lists that includes things like “Grow your hair!” and “Lay out in the sun more!”
About half-way through the pile, I get very goth. By ’92 the journal is almost all poetry and song lyrics.
I just found a Christmas list asking for a VCR and a Discman. Wow I feel old, lol.
The journals from ’95 – 2001 are sporadic. I met a guy, fell in love, and then spent an entire journal writing about our tumultuous relationship. Then either I stopped writing for a while, or those journals are missing.
I quite enjoyed shredding the list of 97 Things I Love About So-and-so. I couldn’t even get through it. Barf.
The following two pages titled All the Things I Hate About So-and-so made me pretty darn happy about the path I chose. Ugh. Reading through that relationship makes me want to curl up with my cat and listen to The Cure.
Shred. Shred. Shred. Feels good to shred those memories. Really no need to go there again.
The journal writing picks up again on Feb. 6th, 2001. I am questioning my decision to move across the country to live with a guy who seems like he’ll never be ready to get married. (we had been dating at least a couple years by then) I actually wrote the line, “Dude, the time is counting down. Way down.” I was Obsessed to say the least.
We’ve been married almost 19 years now, and I just have one thing to say:
See Sean? I TOLD YOU I WAS RIGHT! bwahahahahaha… (and I can’t imagine being with anyone else)
I spent most of my 2001 journal complaining about my now husband and his reluctance to propose. The journal entries abruptly end before the end of the year, and I didn’t even write about the night he did finally propose, in the pouring rain on a street corner in San Francisco. I wish I had spent as much time memorializing the good stuff as I did all the complaints and frustrations. But I’ve always been an emotionally-fueled writer and I often feel like writing the most when I am angry or upset. It helps get my mind straight.
So that brings up to the present day. I feel a little lighter now. A little relieved that those personal memories aren’t lurking in a box in the attic. I saved some pages and some pics, and the rest is history. Undocumented history, and that’s just the way I’d like it to stay.