I was surprised initially reading her journals that they were so clinical. Not only were they almost simply a clean record of the day, but they lacked detail. What does this club you attended do? What was your theme about? Why weren’t you going to prom? I expected them to be secretive and was surprised she kept things so close to the chest. I guess it makes sense that she did not have it in her mind, at 16, as she wrote to explain things to a granddaughter in law down the line who would read these and have so many hungry questions. I believe it must have been even farther from her mind that some day she’d be 98 and wouldn’t remember these hyper important details of her 16 year old days.
I wrote my journals in a far separate decade, a decade where we encourage purging and processing. My journals were not only a puking stream of unprocessed embarrassing consciousness, but they told my story. I always wrote to learn about myself. I would tell the entire story including all these feels of the fight with my mom or the dance where I wore my “dressy dress.” The journals then and now are even designed differently with Babu having only about 6-10 lines per day. I could never have the discipline to write every day or to keep it to so few lines. She wrote for different reasons. To keep a record, so she would not forget people and details and events and places.
That makes it even more powerful when something is revealed. Like when she, in full school girl giggles, (I imagine) writes that a crush is so magnetic! It’s like I have been looking for gold and have found something very valuable finally appear in my pan! There is also the clear pang when the resounding fears appear. If we can argue things are less complicated when we are younger then we must admit that fears are black and white contrast. Every once in a while and entry ends with something like: “Evelyn and I were talking about going away to school. I’d like to go with her. We’d have loads of fun. I hope I don’t have to go alone.” or “I always fear that someday I’ll get a good-for-nothing husband. If I get any.”
I wish I could tell the 16 year old you that neither of those fears came to pass. Yet, there is much I’m thankful you were ignorant of.