A Closet of Journals

Stashed in my closet is a plastic bin overflowing with journals of scribbled emotions, recordings of events, travel notes. From adolescence up until a few years ago, I compulsively filled notebooks with thoughts, thrills, anxieties and dreams. It was as if by recording it, I might save my life.

College journal.

Early journals have the curvy writing of teenage angst, annoyance with my parents, first love, terrible heartbreak. College – more adventures in love, discovering and floundering on my own. Studying was eclipsed by my desire to travel the world, so for a few months at eighteen, I traveled alone through Europe, a lined notebook (now missing) my constant  companion.  The next batch of beat-up spirals are scrawls of years in Kentucky where I enjoyed the friendship and support of the community of fellow Studio 70 artists. Kyoto is next – bicycling through the narrow streets, hours sitting in gardens – dream-like musings. Returning to New York, I filled books with my life in the city, job at the United Nations.  Pages brim with romantic thrills followed by heartbreak. Then, the war in Croatia and Bosnia – meeting and marrying N, having Molly.  The joys of being a mother, the pain and confusion of living with addiction. All of it jotted into these books.

From today I will try to write every day as a way of taking time for myself, of touching/listening to something from within, as a way of organizing my time in a way that some ‘work’ is possible. I would love to write – to have the life of a writer. For this I think I need not only discipline and stories to tell but an ability to listen and to tell, of the inner life. So from today I will take at least half an hour every morning, if not more, to keep this little journal. I can do this now as Molly sleeps…  a way of not just getting swallowed by the daily chores of my life.

I wrote this when Molly was 4 months old. The rumbling of desire to write a book –  I imagined a love story about  meeting and marrying N in Sarajevo during the war, giving birth to Molly prematurely in Italy. I thought I had the elements for a good story — little did I know of  the drama yet to unfold.

I no longer keep a journal. No time? No inclination? Because I blog instead? Perhaps a little of each. I think the answer is in the closet — that bin of books. I will probably just burn them one day. Braver now and less inclined to keep secrets, I am ready to move beyond the closet – and write with the hope of being read.

4 thoughts on “A Closet of Journals”

  1. I sometimes wonder where my missing journals are…I hope someone has thrown them away – I’d hate to think of anyone else reading them. But I’m reading my mother’s journals from World War 2, when she was 19. They’re fascinating as a slice of life then. Not particularly introspective, but she does reveal quite a bit about how she became the woman she was.

  2. Beautiful thoughts Tricia! You’re brave in sharing who you are! So cathartic. (and getting away from that Irish, Catholic thing of keeping secrets!)
    I found this very meditaive.
    Advice…please don’t burn them!

  3. Love this: “I am braver now and less inclined to keep secrets. I am ready to move beyond the closet – to be read. “But where would we be without all those journals? My mother kept all the letters I wrote when I lived in Paris…when I read them over I didn’t recognize or remember hardly anything in them…that’s because I was writing fiction home to cover up my somewhat wild Paris existence. Now I wish I had a more accurate accounting. I could certainly use the material now.

  4. I agree with the others…don’t burn them! I, too, have a closet of journals, and I imagine my daughter reading them after I’m gone. On the one hand, I admit to tearing out a few pages I’d prefer she not read, but I also know that reading letters from my grandmother and father are like getting them back a little…and I hope Casey would feel the same way. I also hope that the entries that show my flaws and hard times might be company for her sometime when she’s struggling, or not feeling great about herself. XO

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