I've kept journals and notebooks almost since I could write. My first real diary was a beautiful yellow hard bound book, complete with lock and key, that I got as a gift from a favorite aunt on my 8th birthday. In it I wrote about my crushes, my parents, my trivial day-to-day. I filled it in no time, adding more brightly colored diaries over the years. At about age thirteen, I began a parallel collection that I called the Black Books. These were black spiral bound notebooks that documented a separate self, an intensely dark self-portrait of the inside of my head. These notebooks were my way of controlling, maybe even befriending, this piece of myself without letting it show to the world outside.
Sometimes it's rather enlightening to revisit past thinking as posited in writing, on paper, virtual or otherwise.
There are a few principled stands to which I've stayed true blue for the better part of a lifetime. There are others that must have sounded good to my ears at the time, whether I believe it or not now. There are moments I'd rather forget - and could, courtesy of the delete feature; would, were I more - less? - of a coward. There are moments I might have forgotten, would have let slip easily away, if not for the ease hitting the publish button. And there are moments I'll now never forget of my own volition, captured here and kept safe for a time beyond time, when the most horrible of somedays arrives and my own volition decides to take leave of my mind.
So, that's where I am at present, sitting amidst the wreckage. Taking stock. Considering options. Paying attention. And one would hope, beginning to snap out of the shock to my system.
But never placing blame.
There is something a little archaic about maintaining an online personal weblog, a "secret" diary all the world could read if they wanted to, a personal journal of ins, outs, ups, downs, and roundabouts of a simple person's simple life, lived in the world as they see it.
It's barely turned afternoon, and I've finished all those mundane chore-like things that have to be done on the scant precious weekends, and then some, thus freeing up the hours that remain for the elusive pursuit of happiness.
I have no map or specific plan for getting there.
But guided by the blue skies and sunshine, I have no doubts I'll find my way.
It's just that kind of day.
At the same time, there is something rather spectacular about being able to scroll through several years of your life and relive it not just through misty, water colored memories of the way we were, but through documented, heartfelt, genuine, on the scene reporting of every emotion, every decision, every feeling, every doubt.
For the past couple of months, a series of mental milestones had been established inside my head. It began with the arrival of the new year and my husband's first day on his new job in West Virginia. The milestones continued: giving my notice at work, putting the house on the market, selling the house, hiring my replacement, pulling off a successful 3-day conference, training my replacement, hitting one last deadline, and, finally, making it through my final day at work.
All of those things, you see, had to come to pass before the move could be allowed to be seen as "real".
Now (as of yesterday in point of fact) all of those things have come and gone. Every milestone has been met, and the unofficial mental demarcation between Raleigh and Charleston has been breached at last.
One week from today, my "here" will be "there".
Let the happily ever after begin.
Good, bad, and ugly - stridently idealistic, urgently optimistic. For the most part, the past nine plus years of my life are all here. At the very least, my perspective on my living of them is all here. I've tried very hard to be careful where I tread, to not give voice to someone else's side of the story. That's not a voice I am entitled to. And besides, most of the time it's difficult enough to be true to my own voice.
I'm happy to have rediscovered a bit of the joy of journaling. To have reconnected with a ritual that has been part of my life, all my life. And I hope it always will be. My diligence in practicing the habit will never change the world.
But if I'm doing it right, it just might prove to have the power to change me.
*Title quote from John Green's 'The Fault in our Stars.'