In my continuing effort to get rid of things I no longer need or use, today I worked on my office closet. I went through files and discarded, shredded, and for the things worth hanging onto, put them in the new/appropriate places. But I’m at a loss as to what to do with my old journals.
I kept a journal from high school through the late 90s. I did it because writing was a good way to record my memories and sort through the deep thoughts of my teen- and twenty-something-ness. Except for a few brief hiatuses (hiatii?) I pretty consistently wrote every day for 15 years. In other words, I have TONS of notebooks full of handwritten blathering. What are they like? Imagine this blog, minus the crazy-ness of pets, kids, home ownership, and excessive volunteering, and you’ll have an idea of the kinds of things I wrote about in my journals. Oh, and throw in a large helping of immaturity, a steaming pile of boy-craziness, and a dash of narcissism. That was my life back then.
For some reason, the 1994 journal was separate from the others, and I flipped through it today, thinking perhaps it held a long-lost screenplay and that’s why I’d set it aside long ago. But such a work of art was not to be found. It was the standard, typical, yammering on and on about work and friends and all the movies I saw that week and boys. Lots of stuff about dates; mostly going on them and wanting to go on them.
At the beginning of 1994, I got a phone call from a guy I’d dated briefly three years earlier. Things had ended weirdly between us and I think he felt guilty about it. He was working in Portland for a week, and we arranged to get together for dinner. I hoped for nothing more than to make my memory of a bad situation better, but I had forgotten how easily we talked. Over the next several days, things started up between us again. Our time together—like, in-the-same-room together—was very short, but my analysis of his thoughts and behavior was all-consuming and went on for at least two months. Ugh. How could anyone stand me back then? (Lest you attempt an answer: ‘twas a rhetorical question and you’re a jackass for even considering it.)
Fortunately—at least from what my journal shows—I didn’t bother him with my over-analysis as much as I will my ancestors when they eventually read these notebooks and will be all WOW, GRANDMA JEN WAS A PSYCHO DRAMA QUEEN.
I went on a trip to San Francisco with three girlfriends. It was the ten-year anniversary of our first visit to SF, and we had fun re-living our 1984 sophomore class trip as adults. I didn’t write a lot about it at the time, but one of my best feeling-like-a-grown-up memories occurred on that trip, when I ventured out into the city on my own for a day.
What stands out in this 1994 journal, more than me being a borderline mental case, is that I went out with my friends a lot. We tried new restaurants and went to movies more than once a year and made long phone calls and stayed up too late and traveled all over the world together. One of my favorite sentences was written on a Sunday evening: “I was so lazy today. What makes me mad is I have plenty of things to do—sewing, stamping, writing letters, etc.—but no ambition whatsoever.” Yep, poor Jen, poor, poor Jen… she kicks herself for sitting around instead of doing fun stuff because she had no real responsibilities back then and nothing better to do anyway and OMG I THINK I HATE THE 1994 JEN.
Mid-year, Victor and I began the slow and painful transition from being BFFs to dating. I had forgotten how difficult all of that was, and even though I know there’s a happy ending to the story, reading through the things I wrote back then still make my heart hurt. It was such a risk we took, and I can’t imagine if we’d lost each other permanently. We were nearly inseparable before that all began, then we didn’t speak for a horrible few months, and then we worked things out and smiled a lot. Yay, us!
There are a handful of journal entries I’d written in WordPerfect and printed and glued to notebook pages. I have to confess: Every one of them has two spaces between each sentence. I am so embarrassed about that.
Easily, my 1994 writings show that I was an over-thinker (still am) and that I thought my life was stressful when it was anything but. However, there were some indications then of the person I am now. Here are questions I answered (from a self-help book, no doubt):
- My goal in life is: to feel I have a purpose on earth—to feel that my life is not rewarding just to me, but to others as well.
- My deepest fear is: losing someone close to me.
- My most frequent feeling is: happiness when I’m with people I care for.
- Three things about myself I want to change are: being open to others’ points of view, being less moody, and enjoying the present instead of trying to predict the future.
- I feel anger when: I make mistakes.
- My highest value is: my relationships.
- My idea of a dream career is: low hours, high pay, artistic demands, very rewarding.
- To me, death is: the scariest thing.
- I have the most fun: planning get-togethers.
- I take great pleasure in: doing things for people I love, making them happy.
- What disgusts me: are feet and gross smells.
- When I have spare time, I like to: take a bath, watch TV, daydream, talk to friends.
- The thing that bothers me most about my body is: my extra weight.
- What hurts me most is: a misunderstanding with a friend.
- The first thing I notice about someone is: their smile.
- When I am my best self, I am: in a good mood, talkative, having a great time, totally content.
- When I am my worst self, I am: grumpy, headachy, no fun to be around.
- People should: stop hating.
So, the 1994 Jen and the 2011 Jen aren’t totally different people. My priorities and goals are very similar now to what they were then, and I still be hatin’ the haters. But the most important sign of growth, really, is that I got the sentence spacing thing figgered out. Wouldn’t you agree?