Today, I went looking for something I suspected to be in my print journal from 1996 and was saddened to remember the 1995-96 volume was the one that was stolen in Mississippi (who steals a backpack in front of a church from kids on a Habitat for Humanity build?). I remember being devastated, not because I lost anything of financial value (I probably had 5 bucks in my wallet) but because I lost everything else: a sheaf of poems from the workshop I was in that spring, notes on my senior seminar paper on Paradise Lost, a couple good mix cassettes & my cheapo walkman, my favorite hairbrush, and most importantly the mead composition book that was nearly filled from a previous years journal writing. It's always felt like a gap in my memory. A hole in my life into which an an entire year vanished..
Truth be told, I have been documenting everything seriously since I was 19, first in those composition books, later in various blogs and online journals. Even before that, I'd been loosely keeping a diary sine I was 14 (mostly filled with bad poetry and rants about my friends, my mother, my grades, my body). I kept the paper versions up til around the summer of 2003 when I started my xanga journal, then remained there til I moved here to blogger in 2005. Every once in a while I try to compare the difference between those private journals and these public ones, and besides seething and occasional negativity (I was all about this in my 20's, thank god I've mellowed in my thirties)..the things I talk about and document are in a similar vein, things I've written, things I've read, dreamed about, saw. These days, I'm much less insecure, hopefully, than I was there (I hope.)
Regardless, they are a touchstone, something I refer to when I can't remember certain timelines, certain details (much in the way I use this blog and facebook now.) They aren't as accessible as the blog, but I keep them right next to my desk at home in the bottom of the wicker file cabinet next to me. If there was a fire, I would probably want to save them (of course, last month's false alarm had me scrambling and worrying about the cats, not belongings.) On one hand I would never want them destroyed. Sometimes, I hope they are destroyed at least before I die and someone else reads them.
Somewhere in my belongings (though I am hard pressed to remember where at the moment-possibly the trunk still in my parent's basement) I have a little pink journal that belonged to my paternal grandmother. There were actually two, one was in pieces, the other was still bound. I've since used the trashed one in art pieces, but the pink one remains intact, and it chronicles the day to day in list form mostly the things she ate for breakfast, the people who visited, store shopping trips. All very mundane, but in some ways fascinating, especially since she's the grandmother I only have flashes of before she died when I was six. The journal fell to my father along with photos, report cards, class pictures, and the other detritus of her life after my step-grandfather died years later. Her scribblings are pretty level headed, devoted only to fact, and not much to opinion or commentary and are therefore far less embarrassing than my own. Should I ever have grand children, I probably wouldn't want them reading my journals (which in some ways makes me wonder if she would mind me reading hers..lol..)
Regardless, and more on track, the details aren't there from that year of my life, only what's left in my memory, the journal missing, probably having been tossed along with the rest of the stuff in a trashcan in Starksville after the thief discovered there was only a wad of dollar bills and no credit cards in the wallet. Or worse, maybe he put on the headphones, rocked out to Tori Amos and 10,000 maniacs, and read the whole thing. Yikes.