While I was at home over Easter, my mother asked me to go through some of the drawers and boxes in my room, and to chuck out anything that I didn’t want anymore. And as much as it kills me to admit this, the diaries I kept on and off from the age of 13, through to about a year ago, joined the “crap I no longer need” pile. I didn’t want to get rid of them, but as my younger sister will be moving into what is currently “my” room (though I’m only there for uni holidays now), I realised there was nowhere for them to go. Especially if I wanted them to remain unread by anyone who isn’t me. I couldn’t really bring them back to Cardiff with me – my room here is tiny. Anyone who wants to stay with me has to be OK with spooning in my not-quite-a-double bed. Consequently, the Boy is the only one who ever wants to visit. (I can be a bit of a bed-hog. My favourite sleeping position is “the starfish”.)
As I was saying.
I have a bit of a thing for the written word – I don’t know if you’ve noticed. One thing I refused to do when asked to begin this clear-out was to go through the four boxes of books currently occupying one corner of my room. I can’t get rid of books. I still have a copy of The Rainbow Fish. And The Tiger Who Came To Tea. And all the Malory Towers books. And the Jill pony books (my mother read them when she was young, despite being the least horsey person I know). You get the point. I have a nigh-on obsessive attachment* to the written word, so consigning my diaries to a bin-liner felt like a moment of some significance.
*It’s even more severe when it comes to the handwritten word. When I receive cards/notes/letters from people I’m especially close to, I keep them for ages.It’s a shame I’ve never received a proper, old-fashioned love letter, it really is.
Naturally, before the handful of notebooks I’d unearthed from my bottom drawer were scrapped, I had a good root through them, and found myself laughing, cringing and remembering. And judging my younger self. All at the same time. I could see brief snapshots of myself: aged 13, cocky and capricious; aged 15, still both arrogant and unsure, in a way that only teenagers can be. Aged 19, slowly wising up but still tripping over the eternal mystery that is the opposite sex, and aged 20 – stumbling happily into my first serious relationship, and almost simultaneously falling prey to an onslaught of anxiety and stress that seemed to last the whole of my second year of university. (I don’t think these two events are related…)
And finally, I saw myself as I was for the first few months of last year. Falling out of that first relationship, in a none-too-dignified fashion.
I haven’t kept a diary since around March last year. I suppose the blog is filling that role at the moment, and if I were to continue with an actual handwritten journal now, almost every day would consist of “I can’t wait for this MA to be over, it’s going to be the death of me, oh and I have no money.” Which, while all true, isn’t half as fun as writing about having too much drama in my love-life. (I’m not saying I miss the days of love-life drama. It made me impossible to live with, I can tell you.)
I think my original intention was to keep them all, until I was a “proper” adult – i.e. with kids of my own. Then, when they hit the impossible teen years, I’d be able to look back at myself at that age – in excruciating detail – and remember. Now I don’t have the words of my 13-year-old self to refer to, I hope I do remember.
I’ll leave you with this little ditty. A couple of Christmases ago, I spent four days trying to make it from Belfast to Gatwick, due to snow. A friend of mine was making the same journey, fortunately, and drove me insane by singing this. Over and over. It’s bloody catchy, don’t say you weren’t warned.