Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Has time re-written every line?

Last night I read the funniest and most cringe-worthy thing I have EVER read. Unfortunately it’s not for sale so you can’t read it, it’s a sort of one-off. A manuscript, even.

It was one of my earliest journals, covering 1986-87, the years when I was in 9th grade and then graduated onto High School. So pretty formative couple of years, really.

I’ve been doing some sorting out and found a whole lot of fascinating memorabilia (of which I should write in my blog later, really) but this journal probably was the best thing. I flicked through it before going to bed and was laughing and embarrassed all at the same time – it was like watching The Office.

It’s amazing the amount of detail I put into this thing. I wrote nearly every day and recorded pretty much every single thing I did, what my friends did and even what scores I got on exams. It was like looking at my past, and I remembered people that were so important to me then but I didn’t even remember. I was surprised to read that by the age of 15 I’d already had three boyfriends!

In those days I didn’t just like someone: I would love them with all my heart. I didn’t just have a bad day: it was a total tragedy. I hated people with all my strength, adored my friends completely and pretty much went over the top in all other emotions. I could barely bear to read what I wrote about a boy I had a crush on: it was incredibly mushy and icky yet, at the time, I must have really felt it for it was written without the tiniest bit of irony.

Flashes of the person I am now were visible: I hated mayonnaise (still do), spent a lot of time in the after-school computers club as I quite liked computers, loved reading and writing, had issues with my mother, loved all things Disney (I even have some fascinating descriptions of a trip to WDW when I went to Epcot for the first time, including descriptions of all Future World rides along with their music). I absolutely loved learning and doing well in school but I struggled with math, and I rooted for the English football team at the World Cup. I loved movies and a lot of the music I like now I very much liked then. I wrote exclusively in English and felt very comfortable with the language, to the extent that I quoted one of my teachers that said “I had native-like mastery of English”. She should hear me now!

There were also a few surprising comments: I said I liked rain (which I really don’t, especially after living in England), I wanted to grow up and become a poet – probably before I found out they don’t make any money! – and seemed obsessed with the movie “St Elmo’s Fire” but I can’t remember being so obsessed with it.

But I really was a pretty silly girl, involved in all the petty and silly squabbles that all 16 year old girls get involved in, complete with excruciating analyses of every tiny little thing that certain boys did, said or even wore. I would fall completely in love with one boy only to suddenly realize that I actually liked another boy much better and consequently transferred all my affection to the new one, complete with gushy poems and secret notes in school. Man, those boys must have hated me!

Things that seemed OH SO important at the time have now been totally forgotten, which of course is no surprise as this was a long time ago. In fact, a lot of my current friends were not even in the landscape at the time, as I met most of them a few years later. But there are some incidents that I could vaguely remember in my mind, mainly because they were so painful, and it was hard to read what I wrote about them at the time, when the wounds were fresh. It reminded me that those things really did happen and the pain I felt was real.

But in the main I was just like most other 15 to 16 year olds, hanging out with friends, very interested in boys, trying to do well in school and having fun. This is only the beginning of a long line of journals that I wrote and I’m sure there is a box full of them in my loft. It will be interesting to bring them down and have a read of those, because this journal ran out just as life was getting interesting…. I just wish I hadn’t been quite so mushy and icky in my writing, otherwise I probably could have made some money publishing them!


Angela said...

OMG I remember being like that too!

Inspiration Alley said...

I'd love to find a journal like that. It's strange what the mind remembers and what it chooses to forget, so finding a journal that records how you actually felt at the time rather than just a memory must have been an enlightening experience.


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