Today, I opened up one of my mostly forgotten storage cupboards and started digging through the various things I had stashed away. The old saying is pretty true: If it’s not something that is regularly used or in your sight-line, it’s forgotten. I had stashed away some books from my childhood, some collectibles that I had no room to display, various knickknacks, and some old journals. It was the old journals that I pulled out to glance through. Except, I ended up reading every word and taking a deep, fast dive into my personal past.
There is something different about reading your own, personal words years after you penned them that strikes up a level of nostalgia no other “remembering” can. Sure, I can discuss the popular songs on the radio when I was a teenager with one of my coworkers, or an old tale describing my late grandfather’s infamous sense of humor, and have intense feelings of connection and understanding. You can beg advice from peers and elders on what to do, even knowing they experienced like things. It is, however, nothing like looking into the words a younger self wrote with the eyes of a person who lived those exact same experiences, but now have the wisdom of time to bring some clarity to the dilemmas and feelings of the past.
Today, I opened my journals not entirely sure what I was going to get. Like this blog and many other journals I’ve kept, I’m rather inconsistent with how often I write, what I write about, and as my friends will testify, when I get on a subject, for a while, I only talk about that one subject. These journals were no different.
Ten years, almost to the month, I began writing in a journal because I had been going through a bit of a growing crisis. To the outside world, I was probably just a sullen, quiet person who had pulled away. Inside, I was a mess and I had very few outlets to share this with. I was afraid of people’s judgment. I didn’t want to be called crazy. I didn’t want to be thought of as stupid. Fear ruled a huge part of my life, and because I was so scared of what my family would thing, I began to resent it. So, I wrote my thoughts down in a journal.
Reading back through, the first journals dealt with one of the first “loves” of my life. It was a very disappointing romantic adventure, and it involved a lot of deceit. After the brief exposition on that brief love affair, it moved on to conversations with friends I’d made, thoughts on how I was planning to run a writer’s board, and later, a development of a relationship with one of the aforementioned friends.
Delving into this time in my life, I felt like I had been slugged with a baseball bat of emotion. The intensity of the words I used to describe how I felt about someone, a situation were so real, it was as if I had jumped back in time. I wrote about conversations I had with friends, but I did not need to write what was said to know which conversation I referenced. And of course, just reading brought back the memories of what it felt like to love, be loved, to be scared about feeling just that much.
Of course, my relationship with that friend has moved on, and we remain friends to this day. While I’m not “In Love” anymore, I still love this person. I always will. It was a one-in-a-lifetime feeling, and I know that now. I know that from seeing how deep to the core of me it had been in my writing. The journals covered four years of my life, including a period where I was unemployed and depressed, thinking I was a failure, to optimism and hope that things were looking up when I finally got a job.
Amongst the journals were other books I had written in, little “About Me” guides I’d purchased where I could do the ‘baby book’ information dump for people to read in the future and get a glimpse of who I was. I read through those books as well, amazed at how early I had developed beliefs I now hold strong and fast to, as well as how very few of the core aspects of those beliefs have changed. I was impressed with how insightful I was when it came to family and friend dynamics. It encouraged me to believe that I still am able to see into the intimate parts of an issue and pick out the important considerations when my advice is asked.
Today offered me a hard look into who I was ten years ago. Often, if something is recorded in some media form, we have only our memories and our perception and interpretation of those memories to decide how things were. Reading through my journals told me how things were. It was refreshing to see I wasn’t far off when relying on memory alone.
Even more, it amazes me that it was ten years ago that I met someone who infinitely changed my life. I became a better writer, a better friend, and through the failure of our relationship, a better person. I learned what insecurity and jealousy can wreak on a relationship, as well as the power of forgiveness. I understand what true love is. I know what a soul mate is and how it feels when you meet him/her. I also know how it is to move on from a break-up and remain friends, and yet be able to have new relationships and love again. I have a best friend for life that I met ten years ago, and I am lucky enough to be able to read my words to reflect almost every stage of our friendship’s progression.
So, today was a good day for me. It was a very bittersweet day. And, I’ve had a smile on my face since the moment I closed the last book of written memories this afternoon. You cannot ask for much more than that.