It started with a photograph that a high school friend posted on Facebook yesterday. It was a bunch of us girls all dressed up, going out to dinner at Wing Tai, our favorite (and only, at the time) Chinese restaurant. The grouping of girls was odd, though (as in, we weren't necessarily all great friends) and I wanted to find the story behind the picture.
So I had to get the box marked "Journals" out of the top of my closet, find a knife and slit open the tape, and find 1982.
I became immersed in 1981, 1982 and 1983 for the next hour or more. I was a prolific diary-keeper. From about fifth grade or so I wrote at least a few times each week, sometimes every day. In 1981 I was a sophomore in high school, and my life was completely wrapped up in my first boyfriend. I seriously cringed to read how much my own identity was defined by the ups and downs of our relationship. I was a basket case for my entire sophomore and junior years, except for the 6 months I spent in Germany, away from the drama.
I never did find out the story behind the picture. My purple diary ended a couple of weeks before the dinner out, and my new one begun just a few days afterwards. I went to bed mulling over various things. Like how I hope my daughter never depends on a boyfriend for her self-worth. Like how I wish that the girl in the diaries could see what was coming next, and what was coming in a few years, and how it all turned out. Like how, even though he (my first boyfriend) often treated me terribly, I am glad I knew him and loved him, because in the end he was a very good friend, and then he died and I can never call him and say, "Listen to this!" or tag him in a note on Facebook.
Today I spent an hour reading through 1983-1984, and I felt much better about myself. I was amazed at how much I matured emotionally just over the summer between my junior and senior years in high school, and then between my senior year in high school and my freshman year of college. I was in a healthy relationship. I was creating. I was spending time outdoors: skiing, skating, hiking, sailing. I was having fun and enjoying friends. I liked who I was, not because of my boyfriend, but because I was embracing the spirit of carpe diem.
I am reading my diaries like they are novels. I know what's coming, and yet the stories somehow seem new. I love "being" in my freshman year of college this evening, and reading about meeting people who later became so pivotal in my life. I've just finished reading through March of my freshman year; in just six months I'll meet my husband.
But I'm saving that for tomorrow.
When was the last time you read through your old diaries?