A gift arrived yesterday. A couple of gifts actually, courtesy of my dear friend A., the occasion my approaching thirty-eighth birthday.
I unwrapped it carefully, and among the hand-picked book (perfect for me) and a stunning bracelet (it will go with a new dress I just bought) was a journal with a bound cover, soft fawn brown, showing two larks in a tree (I are obsessed with the meaning of birds and their connection to spirit, as is my friend A.). The first thing that came to my mind when I saw it was "old school"! So many people have ipads, small notebook computers, they can post statuses of what they are doing in a few keystrokes. This is something that one day, people might muse about. An honest-to-goodness notebook.
I turned it over and over in my hand, late last night, when sleep eluded me, as it does so so often lately. I was lying in bed after a calm night of TV, reading, and thinking, light off, when finally I just got up, turned on the light, and went into the dining room to get it.
I didn't know where to start. Here, on the blog, I can revise, rewrite, delete, type words, start again, backspace, backspace, put posts up, take them down.
This was pen and paper, a special new journal, and I didn't want to sully it's palely-lined pages. But I savoured what I would write in it. All the things that I don't put on this blog. And, as much as life is on here, my narrative life, and even alot of my feelings and emotional responses, it's not all on here.
I got to thinking about the last time I had written in an honest-to-goodness journal, how fast I need to write (read: scrawl), and how illegible it can be as I write in it late at night, as I did back in the basement apartment years, the subscription-to-the-New-Yorker-years, writing about my nights at the Keg, my crushes, my more serious loves, what I thought the future would hold, after staring out at the summer sky from where I lived, deep in suburbia at that time, wondering where I would end up. My paper journals hold it all in there from those times. I didn't even OWN a computer then. It was 1998, 1999.
Then there were the Bathurst years. The first hot-as-hell summer (I am reminded of it based on how hot this one has been). It was the year 2000, I was twenty-six, going on twenty-seven. I still had the New Yorker coming in weekly, Tina Brown taking it in a new direction, and that was the summer I read The Fountainhead, late on weekend nights after I would get home from the restaurant, in front of my dining room window, in tiny pajamas, trying to keep cool.
I always write after reading, and I'm always reading. Particularily in times of great stress or pain, that is what I fall back on. I isolate myself socially, for the most part, and I frequent the library and used book stores to keep my supply from running out. In addition to being a voracious reader, I am a very fast one. So the New Yorker and the novels fuelled me in those apartment days, '98, right into '04 or '05. I stopped writing in a journal after emerging from a long period of depression, and it felt right at the time--living my life, forcing myself out of my little maze, and letting the clouds lift.
The depression stayed away, I moved on from my Bathurst apartment in 2007, and life turn a new turn. Now, instead of depression and loneliness, I had anxiety. Chronic anxiety. I fought it off quite well in the beginning, scheduling time so I could not think about it. I also worked constantly, two jobs, as I had the whole time I saved up for my condo. I read, not as much as I had before, but I still had my books on the go.
In 2009 I started my blog. I had a nice little laptop, I was used to sending my friends messages on email from home, communicating with those who live far away by email, and it seemed a natural progression. I also knew that I needed the outlet, that it had been a long time since I kept a journal, and this, my online journal, has filled a void that I didn't even know was missing.
Still, those paper books, my scribbles, my feelings, my longings--for things I didn't have, couldn't get; they are a poignant reminder of how much I've done, how hard I've worked to create my life, a life I could be proud of, one that I wanted to live.
The volumes of journals sit on my bookshelf, they stand alone, they are my first 'books'. I can't wait to start writing in my new paper journal, in honouring my feelings in their pages.
I might, from time to time, turn them into blog entries, as I have with a coil-bound notebook I've kept to scribble in from time to time over the last year. That was where I wrote my father's eulogy. I needed to use my hand writing to do that.
So..all that from a night of anxiety. I remember the depression, the small peaks, the devestating valleys, and I remember that out of that, out of the pain of an unrequited love, dissatisfaction with the life I had, emerged a new life, the one I really wanted.
Out of the anxiety will come something too. What it is I do not know yet, but I look forward to my new journal helping me figure that out. All of the journals, the writing, has been part of my adult life, my 'schooling' so to speak.
Thank you, again, A.