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.

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4 Responses to 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. Avatar Eileen McGrory says:

    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. Avatar Linda Urbach says:

    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. Avatar Lea Sylvestro says:

    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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