When I left home for university at nineteen, packed among my possessions was a journal. “A woman’s notebook, being a blank book with quotes by women” would become my first official diary, though not my last. If I’d been choosing one myself, I’d have picked something different: this one had half-size pages and a glued binding. I like spiral notebooks that don’t cause hand cramps when you write close to the centre. It was, however, easy to add to my backpack. And unlike some of the journals that followed, I filled every page.
I’d forgotten about its existence, of course. I came across it by happenstance while reorganizing the piles of journals and notebooks I’d been storing in a rather unattractive (read, ugly) plastic bin.
One of the ways I’m coping with the current chaos of my life in a non-eating disordered way (okay, a little eating disordered, but non-vomiting) is with shopping. The people at Visa have been most appreciative. So are the people at Marshall’s. I was there the other day looking for a plant stand and/or new purse when some adorable storage boxes caught my eye. I added them to the buggy, moving the chenille fedora with rhinestone chin strap to one side so that it wouldn’t get crushed (I’ll never wear it). [i]
In the end, I had no luck finding a new purse, but, in addition to the “not on the list,” I managed to snag a “practically perfect in every way” plant rack. Happiness is finding anything in the chaos of Marshalls. Happiness is also pretty new storage boxes. I was moving my old journals into them when I stumbled across that first one.
Things that had been dark for me leading up to university went full black when I arrived: the journalling I’d never really done turned out to be a helpful place to vent. Though I still feel vaguely apologetic regarding the darkly maudlin attempts at poetry, notwithstanding that I was desperately sincere.
What’s left to do then but inflict them on the world? The timing is handy: I remain inspirationally impaired when it comes to my writing: trauma and too much to say often ends with silence. Spending the month resurrecting verse as a form of prompt thus has promise, though remembering the “good old days” is harder than I thought it would be, and a whole month of throwbacks feels over the top. Perhaps just on Fridays?
On the bright side, I find the look back somewhat of a validation. I have endured. I have survived.
Do you look back at your life, and do you revisit it periodically vis a vis the stuff you still have? What’s that like?
Quotes by women, page four: “The basic discovery about any people is the discovery of the relationship between its men and women.”
Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) writer, activist, humanitarian
depression is not what i thought. i imagined inconsolable grief married to sorrow deeper than the Grand Canyon, but that was perception-erroneous. it’s a desert, eternally flat, nothing but empty space. hopelessness tumbleweeds. tears are futile, signifying nothing and offering no release. i’m a constant here now, equally insubstantial. i’m a shallow pool, a mirror, a façade. i’m fading. what was has been vanished; i don’t know if i’ll return. i’m one-dimensional now, a caricature, a girl who used to be (1990)
[i] I’ve worn it once already.
[ii] How much revising of these “poems” should I do? Do I “correct” my affection for writing in lower case (I also had a period where I only used graph paper to write on: good times)? How much tweaking is too much for what are mostly unedited, stream of consciousness word-vomits? I’ve decided the answer to that will be, “it will depend.”