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Words from the Past

September 25, 2009

I have kept written journals since I was 9 or 10. It wasn’t ever a daily journal, just a place to write when my emotions were running high or I was really bored. I carefully saved each hardback journal because I figured that someday I would get a real kick out of reading them to myself, or sharing them with my Husband/Kids.

Truth is…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Generally my little kid journals are a bit boring with an occasional really funny entry. But then I hit the teenage years, my writing increases exponentially, and the present me grimaces at almost every page.

Did I really think it would be fun to reminisce in explicit detail about the fights my parents had? To be fair, I thought by this point I could sit back, laugh, and say “every couple fights, good thing I knew they always loved each other.” I didn’t ever expect it to go from bad to worse.

My adolescence was all about being “in love”, although really I was more in love with the idea of love than any particular person. The entries are too embarrassing to read and give me a very good reason for why I would never want to be a teenager again. It isn’t stuff I want to remember…we all know how the story plays out…HH definitely doesn’t want to hear about it (our long and tangled history definitely stretches back that far). Yes, everyone probably goes through that stage. Yes, it was a great learning experience, probably essential to my being who I am today, blah blah blah. I still don’t ever want to go nostalgic over it. I was an idiot and very much still a child. End of story.

It doesn’t really get much better as I got older. There were some fun, sweet parts when HH and I got back together…again. But there were also plenty of entries about arguments that neither of us remember, and why should we?

I definitely look at my past in rose colored glasses– that is, the parts I want to look at. The rest I just blatantly ignore and forget. I’m very good at forgetting things on purpose and I’m glad I can. I don’t want to remember huddling in my room while my parents fought and writing down on autopilot the things they said to each other. I don’t want to remember explicit details about the boys I dated (a simple “yes, we went out for a few months and it was an xyz experience” would suffice).

Perhaps the journals are meant for no one’s eyes …but that isn’t exactly true. Even in my most downright honest moment, I still subconsciously edited my words for the future, for the snooping sibling or lover. I always intended that they be read.

So, last night, I was letting HH reads some parts of my journals, just for kicks, and his face looked so serious that it gave me chills. And I was afraid all of a sudden, afraid he would see an old me that he didn’t like and attach it to who I am now. Those words I wrote were full of passion and a sort of honesty– but it was only a tiny sliver, the smallest glance at me in that place, at that moment.
Then I remembered that out of all the people in the world, he would be the least likely to judge me based on what I wrote years ago. That’s because he knows every corner of me and of my mind. That is why he is the only person I’d ever trust enough to read those stupid books. Even so, written words have a lot of power– more than I give them credit for.

I put a lot of effort into keeping those journals for posterity’s sake. But honestly, they don’t have any value to me now. I have all the important memories, all the beautiful ones, stored in my heart. Ok, so I don’t remember exactly what I got for Christmas 1998, or what HH and I ate at our first New Year’s Dinner, or why he felt inspired to send me flowers one March years ago. But I remember that Christmas was one of the best in my childhood. I remember just knowing at that dinner that I would spend every New Years onward with this amazing man. I remember how those flowers brought springtime to my room during a long winter and lifted my spirits.

The moral of the story is that I’m thinking of trashing my old journals. Or maybe the moral of the story is that my perspective on the things I wrote is still too up close and personal. Maybe in twenty or fifty years it really will be a hoot to read these things.

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