A few days ago, I read through a few of my old journals… until I just could not read them anymore. There is nothing more humbling, more grounding, and more “kick-you-in-the-ass, you-so-thought-you-were-Sylvia-Plath-but-you-really-were-just-a-person-who-used-too-many-lame-metaphors-for-the-emptiness-that-only-YOU-could-understand” than reading your old journals.
In truth, I was just a regular old pathetic girl searching for love in a dysfunctional life who was probably just like every other pathetic 17-year-old person in the same circumstance. I did not understand my family, my friends, myself, and I thought I knew the depths of everything and everyone. Even when freely admitting (even back then) that I knew nothing. If only everyone could be like me, this life would be soooo much easier. I still love that naive girl. But in a disembodied, motherly kind of way.
Case in point. This was the cover of my journal as I entered college, I kid you not.
• March 4, 1992: “I know I shouldn’t be complaining, especially on Ash Wednesday…”
• August 27, 1990: “Today was my first day as a junior in high school. I thought it was going to be fun, but it wasn’t…”
• September 2, 1990: ” He said he came back to the dance early so he could dance the last dance with me. I think I like him, but I would never say anything.”
• 1990-1992: Some version of: “I am so pissed off/confused/angry at/jealous of/insert life sucks analogy here.”
Oh and there are many, many, MANY versions of the last sentence in my early journals.
Like Twillight Saga level, metaphorically speaking, many.
• • •
I finally found what I was searching for, weeding through all those angsty lines.
• September 1, 1992: “Well, I ‘m sitting here in my dorm room. This whole experience has been a lot different from what I expected it to be. It’s not like high school, but I still feel lost. This feels so weird. I can start over in a sense and just be myself. No prejudging. I can finally start working towards being who I was meant to be. I hope I like it here. I’m kind of scared. I don’t know if I will be doing this (my Journalism major) for the rest of my life. I honestly don’t know if I would want to do this forever… I would really like to try acting… I hope I like it here… I feel like I have changed… I think I am ready.”
This past New Year’s Eve, I started thinking which in turn prompted me to read the journals. As I approach my 40th year, I want to think back on all that has happened and all I have become before moving to the next part.
So I have.
I have started thinking about all the people who have brought me here.
Who grew up with me.
Who sang/lip synched/or otherwise randomly danced in inappropriately venues with me.
Who have laughed/cried with me on stairwells, in movie theaters, and in other inappropriate venues.
Who gave me my first jobs. My first internships.
Who loved me.
Who broke my heart.
Who took road trips and Greyhound bus rides with me to new destinations and life changing trips.
Who have told me the truth in the kindest and cruelest of ways.
Who have argued with me.
Who challenged me to be better.
I am in awe of you. All of you.
I see how far my almost 40-year-old friends have come. Girls who have become fierce women who I respect and admire, doing things that make me proud to have once shared the same space with them. Starting businesses and starting over. Becoming fantastic parents, partners, spouses, and/or fantastic independent women.
People who taught me lifelong friendship, kindness, and have become my family.
Creative people who have inspired me to try something new. Who make me want to create. To put myself out there. To make art.
To those who have inspired me to be more honest and more authentic.
To the men and women who are role models for my family and for my son.
Even to those who I have lost touch with, grew apart from, who had to be left behind, I thank you for the lessons that I desperately needed to learn. I finally understand the importance of these things. The bad things. The mean things. The other things.
Yesterday, the radio reminded me of you. So here is my gift to you. (I have been singing this all darn day.) You will never know how much you mean to me. I have nine months left of 39. Happy Birthday year to us all. Here is to an even greater rest of our lives.
• • •
• February 2, 1996: “All this time I thought I was a grown up, but he hit the nail on the head. ‘You are going to be a very strong woman someday — you’re almost there.’ It never really hit me until he said it — I’m not a grown up. I’m not going to be a grown up until I get into that one thing that will make me strong.”