I went to my mom’s house yesterday and found her cleaning out her garage. Although I’ve had my house almost 15 years now, somehow she still had a few of my old boxes of stuff from some move I made. I brought them home, full of diaries and scrapbooks and pictures. And the girl and young woman I met inside filled me with tenderness.
I have always been an archivist. I began my first diary at six and ever since I’ve poured myself on the page, wanting to grab every little memory from the clutches of forgetfulness. Interestingly, I don’t do it as much now because now I think out loud here, on this page. It’s almost like a diary I share with anyone who will come visit. A place where I let myself finally think out loud.
But the girl in those old notebooks was still tentative and tender, still wondering if she could have the audacity to write words anyone would want to read. As I flipped through page after page, boyfriend troubles from 1987, college papers from the 90s, notes in Spanish I’d totally forgotten I’d ever wanted to write, I was filled with a sweet love for my old self. Here are some pics (check out those abs!):
And here is a page I wrote at 24 years old. Old enough to be a “grown-up” but young enough to wonder how in the world I would ever get to write for a living:
May 17, 1995
“Another day in the life of an artist. An artist: I want to consider myself that. Certainly I know I feel enough to be one, feel about everything and everyone, like a naked nerve. Always thinking, analyzing, hoping, feeling. I feel and observe but have no discipline. If I had an ounce of it I’d have written tons. Maybe I wouldn’t be focused enough to have written a novel – maybe – but certainly lots of stories and articles.
Countless little phrases I’ve lost, which I could have turned into a character sketch or a situation. No use whining, but I resolve to try to catch a few of them now. Maybe after a while they’ll start to fit into each other. I do so much want them to. I have so much to say. I want to be heard.
I try to not allow myself the thought: “How presumptuous! For so many years I’ve been told there’s nothing special about me. Now I want to believe there is.”
It would take that girl nearly 20 years to achieve her dream. When you look at what she fought through – the deep-seated insecurities, the fears, the cultural norms that told her not to aim too high – I am so damn proud of her for getting here. So. Damn. Proud.