"Today I woke up. I practiced my violin and piano and went to school. I came home and played with my sisters. We made popcorn for dinner and watched Robin Hood. Now I am writing in my journal and soon I will go to bed. The end."
My sister Lacey was reading over my shoulder one evening as I wrote and said, "Mandy - you are supposed to write about your feelings! That is what a journal is."
I was terribly confused. This thing I thought I was doing so well, I was actually doing completely wrong. That was the first time I tried to keep in touch with my feelings - and my journals have taken me everywhere since.
There have been times however, when I have not kept a journal and it is those times I have found, that I do not want to remember. Those times left empty spaces in my journals. There have been times when my feelings are all too encompassing and I feel there is no space to say what needs to be said. Those times have left empty spaces in my journals. There have been times of great sadness, where my lungs felt they would cave in and I considered it a success when I cried roughly twice before breakfast. Those times have left empty spaces.
But when I read the pages between those spaces, I realize that I have lived a truly extraordinary life. I have learned to record my feelings and thoughts. I have covered grocery store visits to the spider in the curtains, to a series of bad days I thought would never end. I have written about the boys I kissed, my musings at Walden pond and my first time I set foot in Grand Central Station, my feet buzzing with excitement, my heart thumping. I have tear soaked pages and notes from friends tucked into the corners. I have written, "Falling in love is simple, falling out of love is so much more painful," and - "He loves me. Did you remember that? He told me twice," and "In tears, she took the lei's and kissed each man on the cheek."
I wrote in my journal in Hawaii about how terribly I missed my mom. How I would sob thinking about her being across the country in Connecticut without me. I have written about the time I cried at the circus, because the acrobats were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I ended my most recent journal with a favorite poem by Hopkins - "Glory be to God for dappled things - ... All things counter, original, spare, strange; whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With soft, slow, sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers forth whose beauty is past change. Praise him."
It makes me laugh now, because these journals brought out the dappled in me. My original, spare, strange, fickle, freckled, sweet, soft and adazzled self is encompassed in these pages. And somehow these pages make me feel honest about myself and this life.
I have an entire Bildungsroman novel tucked into those pages. The story of how I became who I am.