Homework for a class I’m taking in memoir writing involved buying a journal. Oh – and using it. I’m trying not to roll my eyes but I have never “journaled” or kept a diary and thought this was quite a tedious assignment. Nevertheless, a trip to Indigo-Chapters is one that my daughter and I enjoy – each to our own corner of the store – so off we went on a school supply shopping trip for me. Though my corner is usually Fiction or better yet, Starbucks, this visit involved a trip to the Paper section. My daughter has led me there on numerous occasions to seek out one of the many journals she has maintained in her lifetime. She is ten.
I was staking out a spot for my brand new journal, with a big letter A on its front cover, in my night table drawer, when I came across an old diary of mine. So I lied; I did keep a diary; but only for about 4 months of my life. My aunt bought me a small one for Christmas one year and I managed to keep it up for an astonishing 4 months in the year 1980. My daughter was in the room, and was obviously curious about its contents. What the heck? I read aloud from a random page…
“When I write in this diary, I think about my daughters reading it and what they will think.” I know, but I swear that really was on the page that I randomly flipped open and read to her. She looked at me with such amazement that you’d think two cosmos collided. She was wriggling and giggling with excitement so I read on to find out what other profound predictions I professed in 1980.
I was 16 years old in 1980 and a very average 16 year old at that. I was not out struggling for social justice or campaigning for peace, I wasn’t plotting to overthrow my parents’ rule and I wasn’t depressed or raging or even writing bad poetry. I was, in fact, entirely ordinary, working as a waitress in a truck stop, studying for exams, angsting about my hair and playing a bit part in the local theatre company’s production of The Sound of Music. Oh and I had a huge crush on a boy named Chris (“A.G. loves C.R.” was emblazoned in a big heart in the back cover!).
“Oh, Mom!” my daughter chided, “You were such a drama queen!” It dawned on me that a) the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and b) my daughter was making a connection. She realized that this evil thing that takes away her iPod and makes her eat broccoli was once young and frivolous.
So, I am now determined to do this journal business – if for no other reason than for the conservation of my own memories and emotions (perhaps no longer so young and so frivolous). She may have a ten year old herself one day (and it’ll serve her right) and look back on this, and her own, journals!