Most girls of my era had one. You know the type: A colorful girly cover guarding dated pages within that serve up a five-year timeline of what you were doing and thinking on a particular day. There was always the requisite lock, intended to keep out the prying eyes of parents and siblings. I'm not sure how well that lock guarded my secrets, but I do know that unlocking the pages of my tattered little tome revealed events that would have remained forgotten if not for the proof — written by my own hand — that they occurred. There were events that had long since faded from my memory. Knitting a purse for my best friend. Boys that I mooned over but who had long since faded from memory. Seeing the movie Billy Jack three times. How devastated I was when my best friend moved away.
My diary was a constant friend during my youth, an item that I treasured long into adulthood. For a time, the book was lost. But thanks to a family member, it was rescued from a box of belongings taken from my mother's home after her death. The day that it arrived in my mailbox, it was like seeing an old friend. And when I reconnected with my childhood friend through that obituary, I pulled out my diary to relive our times together. In the process, I reconnected with my inner child — the young girl who loved reading books, listening to sappy love songs, roaming in the woods near home and writing down her thoughts in a diary.
Why do I write? For a variety of reasons. I love to read, and I cherish words and books. I also find joy in sharing stories, both my own and those of others. Putting thoughts and words on paper (or screen) can be cathartic. It's also a way to preserve and validate precious moments from my life — to prove that they happened. Somehow those moments take on new life when they are put into words.
Recently I read about a New York Times article that cited a woman taking the drastic measure of burning her diaries. I was aghast that any writer could bring herself to commit such an act. Since childhood, I've been scribbling stories, reflections and recollections onto everything from notebook paper to diaries to handmade journals. And I could never see my way to burn those precious pages and deny myself the privilege of returning to them and reliving the moments of life from whence they sprang.
Burn my journals? Destroy my diaries? Never. They are part of me and who I am. I'm not sure how or why my friend and I lost touch, and the intervening years have taken us light years away from the naive adolescents we once were. But in sharing with her the thoughts from my diary, I had the chance to reconnect with the little girl I once was. To remember her hopes and dreams — and to find the inspiration to keep pursuing the dreams of the woman she's become.
P.S. Special thanks to the friend who rescued and returned the diary. You know who you are.
Did you keep a diary as a youngster? Are you a journal writer as an adult? How has writing affected your life? To leave a response, click Comment(s) and enter information in the Leave A Reply form.