Believe it or not, back in the late 90’s, I was a rabid journal-er. I used to buy those black-covered lined A4 notebooks you could find at your run-of-the-mill drug store and fill them with all of my teenage angst (of which there was really quite a bit). I would write and write and write under the guise of posterity. I remember constantly being told by adults that I would look back on my teenage years and cringe at myself, so I decided to document everything with the defiant idea that their warnings didn’t apply to me. I filled notebook after notebook with my feelings about my struggles with my family, school challenges, friendship drama (because there’s always plenty of that when you’re 16), infatuation with boys, etc. I kept this journaling going through my junior and senior years of high school and most of my college days. I fell off the wagon in the mid-aughts because I was trying to spend more time actually living life than trying to document every little thing so that I could look back on it when I was one of those cynical adults who would issue condescending warnings to teenagers.
Despite my hobby falling by the wayside, I held on to those ratty notebooks. I moved back and forth across the country several times, and even to a totally new one, and I would always manage to stuff them in some box that would inevitably end up in the back of a closet. I would stumble across them again when I was putting away out-of-season clothes or trying to find my stashed photo gear. I would sometimes sit down and flip through them, at least ten years or more later, and… cringe. Those patronizing adults were right. I was a teenage ball of emotions and hormones and ridiculousness. But, of course, having the books was a good reminder that, at the time, I did feel all of those things so sincerely and deeply. And, even though my 20/20 hindsight offered me enough perspective to be more than a little embarrassed, at least I had to respect my teenage self instead of dismissing her entirely.
I ended up throwing those books away about five years ago. I had finally finished my undergrad and was moving back to Vancouver from Chicago. My partner had moved two months earlier for work, so I was left behind to pack up our apartment/life and discard anything unnecessary (UPS shipping is a rip-off). I purged so much and packed up as many essentials as I could. I dug through closets and storage and the box of books ended up being pulled out into the living room, as I packed up around it. I think I had just assumed I would pack it up towards the end. But, on the day I vacated our South Loop apartment, I absolutely could not get my suitcase to shut with them inside. I tried repacking, spreading them out, etc. but nothing was working. My ride was waiting on me as I keep fumbling in vain. The writing was on the wall. I took it as a sign and, rather than being weighed down by the past (oooh, meaning!), I tossed the box into the dumpster (yes, I still feel guilty about it not being a recycling bin, okay?). They made me cringe more than not and it’s best to leave the past in the past, no?
In the years since, I’ve felt fleeting regrets about tossing them, but what’s done is done. What has stuck with me, though, is memories of how cathartic I found writing everything out back then. My life now doesn’t really share anything in common with who I was and what I was going through when I was younger, but maybe blogging could be like riding a bicycle? I don’t know. There’s a strong chance this will just taper off like the few feeble attempts I’ve made over the last few years. But, since no one actually knows about this, it’s worth a try.
Sure as God made little apples.
(Disclaimer: I have no idea what that ^ means, but my Grandpa used to say it and so it stands)