“J” is for Journal
On my eleventh birthday I received a fuzzy blue diary with a special lock and key from my mom to keep all of my thoughts and secrets. I was inspired to keep some sort of journal with me after reading a series of Dear America books about fictional children from different time periods who kept a journal of their experiences during historical events. I was fascinated by the way history came to life through the eyes of these characters.
They weren’t books just stating facts about different eras in American history. They were magnificent stories that included images and experiences with the added value of getting the sense of how people may have felt during those times. I looked around at the events that took place in my own life and began to write as if my diary was going to be found one day, long after I was dead, by someone who was interested in the time period that I lived in. My first entry was about how I came to be, my eleventh birthday, and the events that just happened on 9/11 when the Twin Towers fell.
At the time, I felt as though the first diary entry was the most significant piece of writing that I have ever produced so far. I was encouraged to write more about my life, my surroundings, and the way I lived (although not every day). I would discuss major life decisions, such as deciding what I wanted to do as a career in the future and why, where I wanted to go to school or travel to, and how I felt about major life events.
At times I would consider my journals personal letters to the universe and documentation of my life if I ever lost my memory. My journaling became scattered pieces of a rough draft to my autobiography, and something more in value to me than just inexpensive journals you pick up from random stores.
My collection of journals became so important to me, that when people would ask what you would save from a fire if all of your family was already out, I would say that I plan on grabbing my journals and my cat. Parts of my life have been gathered slowly on pieces of paper that have been sandwiched together. I was gifted art journals for sketches that I kept, and I began keeping written story ideas, poems and short stories together in some journals, and allowed them to get disorganized with thoughts written on napkins and loose-leafed sheets of paper. Even various entries in my blog became a publicly published journal.
All of my journals became some of my most prized possession in a way that old photos, not yet scanned onto computer or any other device, are for most people. And over half of my life, nearly 12 years later, I’m still keeping a journal and writing everything that I can down, and I hope to continue journaling until I can no longer journal anymore.