My writing life started with diaries – the kind with the tiny keys. Keys implying a privacy that wasn’t actually possible. But which gave a 9 year old a sense of importance. Tucking away private thoughts in a safe space. A comforting fantasy. Trusting that the key really worked.
As I got older, diaries (keys long gone) were followed by small spiral lined notebooks (written with an orange Flair pen – this was, after all, the ’70’s). Next… black hardcover “blank books.” And then back to small spiral notebooks and thick journals. I actually preferred the printed lines to guide my sometimes erratic handwriting; angled in anger or loopy with emotion. I went through a calligraphy stage in college and carefully inked my thoughts with spaced precision. An art form! And since I was the sister who was NOT the artist, I felt mighty proud about that.
My good friend Debbie gave me a new 8 1/2″ x 11″ black blank book when we were both 20 and about to start sharing an apartment – a first for both of us. We would finish up our last 1 & 1/2 years of college together.
She filled the first page:
Here is the book you wanted. It means so much to have a book like this…to write down thoughts, feelings….watch how you grow, how your feelings change and how much more aware you become when you read back through it…
The second and third pages contained Pink Floyd lyrics from “Dark Side of the Moon.”
Breathe, breathe, in the air…Don’t be afraid to care…Leave, but don’t leave me…Look around and choose your own ground….
I followed Debbie’s directions and kept filling that journal off and on for almost 18 years. (It didn’t come with a key. I wonder if it should have.) I was as open with my written words at 20 and 25 and 30 as I was at 9 and 10. Kind of shocking really. And now sometimes embarrassing – and painful – to see my heart splayed open on the page over and over, year after year.
Entries became sporadic and eventually just covered major life events – or the night before major life events – as I pondered their significance. Marriage. Career. Parenthood. Family dramas. Joy. Grief. Loss. I started and stopped various notebooks, journals and blank books. A brand new one always a hard-to-resist invitation to begin again. Maybe it was the fresh, smooth paper & its possibilities…like getting new notebook paper, pens and pencils for the start of school each September.
At the ripe old age of 27 – about 2 weeks before the birth of my first child I wrote…
It seems that the older I get, the faster life goes by…We Are Going To Be Parents!!…It will probably be the most important thing we do….”
The next entry (in that journal) was 10 years later when I had a weekend away by myself. By then I had a second child and a consulting job. I was still in my thirties. The 4 page summary began with…
Motherhood has changed my life more than anything else before it.
And ended with…
After all these years I’m finally starting to acknowledge that there’s another side of me that’s been buried – perhaps a more creative side – I’m not sure…”
Looking back, I was spot-on about the motherhood thing.
…I also have several well worn notebooks filled with stories of all the amazing, funny, and truly one of a kind things my 2 children ever said or did.
Truly like no other kid ever in the history of the world. Obviously. For example: How many 8 year old boys do you know who can make an earring out of a Cheerio? And whose mother wrote a story about it?
I couldn’t help myself. It was such fun….