It’s fascinating to learn that my great-great-great-grandfather (my one Irish relative) worked as a bridge builder in Mobile, Ala., but does that really tell me anything about myself?
More telling are the recent artifacts of my life. I’m an admitted packrat, but there is method to my madness. When I look back at all the flotsam of my formative years – the freckled Midge doll, the signatures in my middle school yearbooks (“I was the first to sign your crack!” – Chanda Wilson), the notes written in purple ink and folded into squares, the criss-cross-strapped blue prom dress, the worn suede Vans with “I love ?” written on the toe in pencil – it reminds me of the person or people I used to be.
Much as I would sometimes like to forget that I once had pit stains at the Homecoming dance, it is important to keep lessons like these hanging around. Double up the deodorant before dancing, girlfriend. See there, what if I forgot that?
And the remains of the corsage I didn’t wear to a different Homecoming dance (what’s with Homecoming anyway?) remind me that I was mean once to a boy who didn’t deserve it.
But the best sources of all are my journals. Yes, I was a blogger back when it required a pencil and paper.
I wrote pretty consistently in my journals (I went through several) from 7th through 12th grades. This was not considered a cool activity at the time, so I kept it quiet. Different from now, huh?
The journals are mostly full of idiotic stuff like rankings of which boy I liked best that day. (Feel free to join me in a sigh of relief that I am no longer 14.)
Also featured prominently are elaborate weight-loss plans and play-by-plays of my interactions with various boys, including my – usually faulty – analysis. It’s so easy to read it all now and see how dumb I was.
My journal writing slowed to a trickle after high school. My favorite way to write was in pencil, by lamplight, in a spiral-bound notebook, just before I went to sleep. Sharing a 12x12 dorm room, that got harder to do. Besides, I was out actually living my life instead of just daydreaming about one.
Then I met Darwin the summer after freshman year of college. He inspired a few frenzied journal entries, but then? What did I have to write about now that I had what I’d always wanted?
So a whole chunk of my life is missing. When Darwin and I can’t remember something about the early months and years of our relationship, there’s no reference to check. That makes me a little sad because now, almost 6 years later, some things about that time are hazy and others are gone entirely.
But now there is this blog. It’s the new record of my history, our history and our house’s. Even just 18 months into this, some of our early mistakes already make me cringe. But that’s okay. How else are we going to learn?