GUEST POST by SR Mallery
There are so many reasons why people keep journals or diaries. Some people, trapped in their boring job during the day, itch to release their hidden creativity at night. Others yearn to express their anger or love without actually confronting anyone, and some do it simply to leave behind some sort of legacy.
As for me, I kept a diary at nine years oldââa small, blue leather book with a clasp, endlessly unfastened (I had quickly managed to lose its key). I filled it with descriptions of what happened at school as well as what afterschool was like with my two best friends: the fights we had, the hilarious moments we shared, and my crush on one boy who at the time reminded me so much of JFK. I had also decided that year to add the unofficial middle name âJane,â so each entry had a âlove, Sarah Janeâ at the bottom to add to its authenticity...
Then, when I was just shy of twelve, my family and I went to Europe on a summer vacation. My mother suggested that I keep a journal for the trip and I took that assignment seriously. At the end of each day, I made sure all the names of the museums, cemeteries, parks, restaurants, and tourist places we had visited were correctly spelled. For example, the Tower of London was scary, and Buckingham Palace was fascinating, particularly watching the Beefeater guards stand as rigid as statues no matter how many tourists tried to lure them into conversation. Madam Toussaudâs in Paris captivated me, not only because of the likenesses enclosed within its walls, but also the little brochure about the English monarchy they handed out. Many of those kings and queens later appeared in my journal. I also documented in detail a wonderful canal boat ride we took in pastoral England, where we learned how to open up locks, the names of a myriad of well-known local pubs along the way, and slowly experienced the glorious scenery the countryside afforded, as well as the various lockkeepersâ spectacular gardens entered in competitions every twelve months.
Years later, when my family had gathered for a holiday, I was asked to bring out that journal and it was a treat indeed to read the daily entrances out loud.
âAlmost as good as watching a slide show,â one of my uncles exclaimed, and that was certainly true. Since I had forgotten so much of it, revisiting all those places enriched everyone that evening.
But I also grew up with a family filled with prolific letter writers. Typewritten, single-spaced, my mother, father, aunts, and uncles all had reams of these gems, with everyone delighting in giving rich detailed descriptions of locations, events, and philosophical ramblings. Somewhat like a Pandoraâs Box, they all contributed to a rich, ancestral history. A history that lived and breathed, and ultimately, I believe, helped shape who I am today.
Diaries/Journals? Definitely treasure troves, forever locked into eternity!