(Theme – Reminiscing about things from my past)
J is for Journaling
I don’t remember how soon after writing my every thought in a little book I stopped saying “diary” and switched to “journal” but I am guessing maybe 6th grade? I remember my very first journal entry in fourth grade: I wrote about how I hung out with the girl across the street, Alma, and how her little dog, Conan’s, barking bothered me. I wrote about how her older brother, Marco, was both endlessly irritating and also interesting. I didn’t have any older siblings let alone a brother, so he fascinated me. He was mean to us girls, as older brothers tend to be, but he also let us into his room, which felt special. He had all the good stuff – his room looked like it had been another room of the house because he had a glass door that led to what was probably a porch but had been converted to another play room for him. His walls were a dark blue with a professionally painted Star Wars mural. He had all the cool Star Wars toys and the sheets too. I loved when he let us play in there.
My next entry, I talked about wanting a Nintendo for Christmas. I never did get one; when I turned 12 I got a Sega Genesis. I specifically remember writing about how that was fun but disappointing. Most of my early entries from 4th-7th grade consisted of me writing about each day: swim team practice, hanging out with friends, and boys I thought were “fine”. That was apparently the terminology of 1992. I’d probably call them hot now.
In the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I went to Canada with my friend, Tracy, and we befriended two boys who stayed in the cabin next door to her grandparents’. I can’t remember the one boy’s name but I definitely remember James. James Dwight Collins, to be specific. He was taller than me, lean, tanned and blond. The opposite of my typical crushes, who trended towards the dark and broody type. But the way in which he was different? Well, he payed me attention. I crushed on boys all the time at school and they had no idea I existed. I had slobbered over Ricky Caballero for the entirety of 8th grade and I didn’t register on his radar for one hot second.
The four of us spent our days playing cards, walking in the nearby woods, and jumping off the cliff into the lake. It was idyllic and peaceful and entirely too sexually charged. We were all, what 13, 14? James may have been 15 actually. It honestly played out like a cheesy 80s teen movie; the boys would ask pressing questions and we’d surreptitiously answer and play coy. I had no game, as I’d not really had a boyfriend before (if you don’t count Tony Long, who held my hand while we watched movies, stole candy for me from the drug store, and only kissed me once, briefly.) So when James was this interested in talking to me, I thought I was becoming like those other girls who seemed to have it all together. The closest we got, I suppose, was the day it rained non-stop and we had nothing to do. I don’t know where my friend’s dad had done off to but I know the four of us were left alone in the cabin. Probably a bad idea, in retrospect. While nothing crazy happened, I remember James and I laying in bed, under the covers, and talking for hours. I got a small kiss out of it and nothing else. In my journal, somewhere in a box, I still have his phone number, in black sharpie, on a portion of a cigarette box. Did I ever call him once we went back to Florida, an entire world away from him? Just once. He sounded detached and emotionless and I never had contact with him again.
I moved halfway through my 9th grade year and my journal was full of the uncertainty and insecurities I felt around that time. I had to meet new people, fit in at a new school, and I wasn’t exactly the cool kid. I was, in fact, a tomboy and that didn’t go over very well. I did end up making a lot of friends, the quirky people. I wrote a lot about My So-Called Life, because I felt like I identified with Angela quite a bit.
In college, I wrote all about wrestling! That was my biggest hobby when not studying or hanging out with friends. I say studying in the loosest of ways because I was not a very good college student. At least, not at first. Funny enough, I didn’t often write about how I was so depressed about my bad grades that I stopped going to class. I used my journal as a way to escape, to put my inner feelings out there. I eventually began bringing my books to campus, once I got back into the swing of being a student, and I’d write stories while waiting between classes.
These journals served me all through my pregnancies and the childhood rearing years. (Not that I am not still in them but it was more turbulent 8-12 years ago.) These days, I don’t detail as much – sometimes just what we’re working on or something stressing me out. I feel like I can’t let go of the physical act of putting pen to paper. It’s soothing even if I don’t write anything important. I even purchased a new book not that long ago and can’t wait to write that first page!