I'm summarizing my old journals for as long as it takes.
As 2020 began, I finished the Year in Review, applied for and received my 50-year commemoration medal from Joslin Clinic, and wondered what was next for the blog. When I unpacked the boxes of journals in May of 2019, I made a vow to not move them to another living situation. The notebooks are in two large produce boxes, filled with spiral and bound, lined and unlined, chronicles of personal history that haven’t been reviewed since I went through the first phase a reflective purge in 2009. I spent over $100 to ship them by media mail from Alsaka to Maine, and they lived in the basement for a few years until I moved into my new place. They are piled up, now labeled by year, and gathering dust.
In this next year (and, perhaps, as long as it takes) I am going to read my way through them, lines and lines of boring, self-involved prose. I’ll summarize, and try to keep it interesting, engaging and universally relevant. It will be a slog, but after I’m done with each stage, I’ll have the opportunity to burn them in a righteous purge. Let them go. Reduce the baggage.
My journals have largely been a friend, a standby kept alongside to collect thoughts, make lists, maintain resolution on goals (some of which have been on the agenda since my 20s) and process through any of the things I was experiencing at the time. For much of the pages, there is a lot of introspection and inward processing, all the nights I spent drinking, or on the road, or otherwise talking to the page. While this is an important function, I’m not sure it makes sense to move them again.
The first journal I have is from 1975. I’m not sure what was real or what wasn’t, but in the sporadic pages, I mentioned running away from home, about fear of menstruation, about not fitting in and difficulty in making friends and of others that were really good friends, of boyfriends (largely imagined), and discovering cigarettes.
I started that secret habit (1975-2008 ish) when a friend and I purchased the said cigarettes from a vending machine in the BurgerKing in a small commercial hamlet within a long bike ride from the house. The journals triggered the awkwardness of Jr. high and the uncertain discomfort of early adolescence. In reviewing the letter to a friend written during a Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii with my family and grandmother in 1978, I used the word “mint” to describe good experiences. The journal helped me remember buying a green T-shirt that said: “smoke Hawaiian” (looked good with my tan), went through our ten-day trip to Hilo to Kona, to Ioa valley to Kauai to Waikiki. There, my sister and I (15 and 13) walked the beach at night and accepted an invitation from a quiet Native guy to smoke joints while sitting on the sand, an experience I still remember.
With this first review, the first odd bits of this project is done. Those journals have from the bookshelf to the paper bag, ready to be destroyed. Now, onward to the 80’s.