So I’m procrastinating from packing. Actually, not packing, but going through boxes and eliminating more stuff. Per my last entry, this should be an easier process than it was, now that I am fully enlightened in the beauty of living without and all that. And it has been going more smoothly, but then I came to a box full of diaries.
That I used to record my life with a ballpoint pen and in a spiral notebook probably puts me back in the dark ages. But back in my fort-building, Smurf-watching, jelly shoes-wearing childhood before the internet existed, if you wanted to record your thoughts you did it privately. You didn’t even want your sister to read what you had written. (Evidence #1 - the word “private” written at least a dozen times on the cover of each diary. Evidence #2 - the graphic death threats to my sister that grace the first page of each one.)
Yesterday, I read an article in the paper about two teenagers who had sent their boyfriends naked photos of themselves. You can imagine where this is going. A few My Space and other online postings later, not only their high school, but the whole world had access to the pictures. I don’t think I would’ve been sending naked pictures of myself, but looking through my diaries now, I am glad that I went through the emotional roller coaster of life as a teenager without access to posting all of my thoughts online. Just reading through my entries is exhausting. My relationships seem to go from one extreme to another, with lots of underlining and capital letters to emphasize the emotional toll of each extreme. And mostly, my entries are dedicated to one boyfriend or another and how much I HATE him and then LOVE him but then HATE (underlined five times) him the next day and back again. Are teenage boys this emotionally exhausting to deal with? And am I really going to raise not one, not two, but three teenage girls?
Someone told me recently that you should only save the personal things that you want to pass down to your children - meaningful letters from grandparents, a note about an important trip. Anyway, I kept that in mind as I was going through the boxes and immediately threw out all letters from old boyfriends. But my diaries are a bit different - I don’t really want anyone else reading them, but I have a hard time letting go of them. There are things in there that I love reading again - I never would have remembered sitting with Annie at John’s pool in the Cape and seeing a meteor shower, or the list of all the things I missed most from home while I was on Outward Bound. I love that I wrote down all of the music from the mix tapes I was making at the time (the random blends of Grateful Dead, Marky Mark, Phish and songs from the Pretty Woman soundtrack) and reading about when Janna and I got caught sneaking out to a summer party just brings back a flood of memories from that time. Then of course there are my diaries from Ecuador and every email Toby and I wrote back and forth to each other when we were living apart.
I keep having this image of 15 year old Evie opening a box and reading all of these pages, more informed about me than she needs to be. I don’t quite have the heart to change the privacy threats, and I’m not sure they were ever that effective to begin with, but for now, I think I‘ll save my diaries. If for nothing else, then just to give me some empathy and perspective when my daughters are slamming the door in my face and telling me they hate me. Hopefully they just won’t write about it online before they love me again the next day.