Remember (way way back before the days of Facebook – Hell, before home computers,) when the closest anyone got to publishing their every thought was to keep a diary – a well-hidden, locked, protected-with-our-last-breath little leatherette-bound book? I do. I was confronted with six, yes six, of these wicked little reminders of my youthful shallowness and stupidity when my mother decided to clean out one of her spare bedroom closets this week.
She may have wanted desperately to know the contents of my teen-aged mind, but I know my mother had not read them, even though she’d had ample opportunity. She could have never mentioned she’d found them; she could have had her way with them and I would never have known. My mother is NOT that kind of mother, though. She respected my privacy when I was fifteen, which is why I am a hundred percent open and honest with her to this day.
What to do, what to do? Should I burn them without even opening a page or should I revisit every high school crush, hurt feeling, insipid poem, raging sibling battle, and everything else I had so carefully memorialized all those years ago? I knew I had to at least take a peek. I carried the volumes to my studio and opened the books. Inside, I discovered a person I can no longer remember being; someone whose goals and dreams are so foreign to me that I felt I was reading about someone else’s childhood. Those words could not have come from me . . . but they had.
As embarrassed as I was to read those revelations, reveries, rants, and ridiculous notions, I felt relieved – relieved because I had grown up. I had survived the ignorance and arrogance and insecurity of my youth and NOBODY had to know all those false starts and missteps that led me to who I am.
I am planning a private celebratory burning of my diaries, erasing all physical evidence of my personal confessions of youthful irresponsibility and missed opportunity forever. As I watch the flames consume my annotated foolishness, I will thank the Universe that Facebook did not exist in 1969 and hope today’s electronic diarists never have to regret not having kept some things to themselves – well-hidden and locked in fabulously flammable leatherette diaries.