Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Journals

I'm a journaler.  In a big way.  I don't even know if that's technically spelled correctly, but we're gonna go with it.

I had a diary when I was in 3rd-8th grades.  As in, I had a book with a giant lock on it that I would occasionally angst in, but it was far from consistent (sometimes years would pass between entries) and my writing hinged mostly on my ability to find my well-hidden diary keys (did anyone else have a paranoia that your parents were reading your diary?).

Things changed in May of 2005.  I got this journal:
This journal (which came with a pen that lived happily there in that elastic loop) was what changed it all.  It was a personal turning point.  This was the point in my life when I became a writer.  Even though I was only writing for me, holy wow was that going to be important.  I actually completely filled this journal, which impressed me.  I didn't think that actually happened.  I was just so inspired by the journal itself, that I felt warmly invited to write.  There are lots of "Dear God," entries, but let's be honest, a solid 95% of the subject matter in this journal was boy-related.  I'm fairly certain that I've been boy crazy since birth, but about 4th through 10th grade was just embarrassing.  This journal captured the tail end of that embarrassment, spanning from May 2005 to April 2006.  Yeah!  Finished my first journal in less than a year!  I'm tellin you--I ate that stuff up.

So then I was on a roll.  I scavenged for the next journal.  Really I wanted another one that looked just like that, but they weren't being made anymore.  I settled for #1's cousin:

I took this one to Europe with me, to camp with me... and then it fizzled out.  This one's kinda my summer of '06 journal.  I did write a lot that summer.  But I also took it to camp in '07!  5 pages that summer.  Oh well.  This was a faithful journal nonetheless.

Because I had declared the above journal as my summer journal, I had to have another one on hand for the school year.  Here she is:

My senior year I didn't journal much.  I'd say that I didn't have much to write, but that'd be false.  I think I had too much to journal, so I had troubles spitting it all out. 

And, let's be honest, I kinda sorta hated that journal.  She was a pain to write in, she was pink, and she was just so... not me.  I'm really not sure why I purchased her in the first place.  And then I named her Pheebi.  What a gosh awful name for a journal.  Who wants to tell "Pheebi the pink journal" about a spiritual issue that one is battling?  Or about the complicated relationship situations that one finds oneself in?  Certainly not me.  I tried, but I didn't make it even 1/8 of the way through Pheebi the pink journal.  My last entry says, "Journal, When I write this, please don't get offended...  You don't inspire me to write as a journal should.  I'm sorry to leave you like this, but it's time.  I will be moved in to college in 4 days. I am leaving you here.  When I have written in you, you've served me well.  I look back on these entries fondly."  I was self-aware enough to be aware of and amused by the overdramatic nature of that final entry.

And then I found him.  Gary.  My fourth journal and dear friend:

I love this journal so much.  I started writing to Gary the first night of college, and I filled the last page, tearfully, in January of 2010.  That's a pretty solid 2 and a half years of companionship.  He was with me through the most life-changing moments that shaped me into who I am today.  He tolerated me when I was dumb as a brick and overly cerebral--sometimes in the same entry.  He endured who knows how many not-serious crushes blown way out of proportion, as well as the quiet genuine moments of relationships that held some real weight.  God, family, friends, changes in life's direction... This journal saw it all. 

Some of the bits of the bittersweet farewell letter on the last pages reads, "I won't lie--I will miss this.  Your pages are exceptionally inviting, dear friend.  Unmatched.  I wish you were forever long, so I could keep writing in you until I am 105 years old, but I'm sure you'd tire of me...  I feel like you carried the emotional bulk of my transition from ridiculous high schooler to slightly less ridiculous young adult.  Probably the most word-heavy transition of the human life...  If I collected all the people from the past 2 1/2 years together, I could pull from their memories and reconstruct the bread crumbs that lead from almost-18-year-old Cole to almost-20.5-year-old Cole.  But this would be quite tiresome.  And many of those people I don't particularly wish to see again. I would much rather flip back a few pages to see for myself.  Besides, I was probably more honest with myself in this journal than I was with most of the people I confided in or interacted with."

I was nervous about the journal that would follow Gary.  He was a big deal.  How does one just replace a dear friend?  It was a very serious search that I insisted on making alone--I didn't trust anyone to know me well enough to help me find a journal, and I didn't want to offend anyone if they tried.  I settled on this journal--number 5:

This journal doesn't have a name, but it's been an excellent journal, and I've given every entry not only a date but a time as well (previous journals I'd only very rarely even put dates, which makes exact chronology difficult to track).  This journal was started in January of 2010, just after I bade farewell to Gary, and it saw me through the most difficult year of my 21, I believe.  Not that it was a bad year--not at all--just that it required a lot of work, in every aspect.  Much of that was aided by this journal.  It has been a great help.  And it has wrapped up much more quickly than I thought it would!  Because of the 50+ pages that I wrote while in India, I now have 3 pages left.  I began the farewell entry yesterday (no tears this time), and I think I'll finish it tonight.  I was hoping to finish it by Valentines Day, though, because I thought that would be an incredibly appropriate day to begin my next journal!

My sweet boyfriend of 1 month, Jared, gave me this journal for Valentines Day.  It is the first journal that I've allowed another person to give me, and it is perfect.  It is precisely what I would have picked out myself--a leather cover with a wrap around tie and lined pages on the inside (I quickly learned that lines are very important to me.  One of my brilliant idiosyncrasies).  I can only imagine the beautiful things that will be poured into these pages...  I have actually been slow to finish the other journal because I want so badly to begin writing in this one--which is completely counter-productive.  Also, the pressure of writing the first page of a journal is kind of ridiculous.  I don't like that part.  So much pressure!  It will forever be the first page of that journal!  But once that's over and done with, the entries pour out.  What a wonderful feeling...

So, you, my dear reader.  Do you journal?  If so, tell me about it!  Let's nerd out about our journals together!  If not, maybe you want to!  In my next post (or one of my next posts--don't want to limit myself) I'll go through some general blogging and journaling guidelines that I've discovered.  Coming soon.  It's like a movie trailer.  Get excited.

I love you.


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