December 21, 2009

Memory Books

I am almost finished with a journal, the first I've ever consistently kept or filled. The first entry is dated December 15, 2005. The first sentence is, I want to write a story about disbelief, youth, and magic. After Laura died we read her journals, just to hear her, to visit her again. It didn't feel wrong. My father probably read everything she had written, every sad, crazy word. Laura could be terse, almost mute. But her writing, oh, when you read her writing it was like standing on your tiptoes to peer through a tiny, tiny crack in the curtains of an immense, impenetrable house. Her journals chronicled years of pain and isolation, of guilt and occasionally, every so often, beauty. My journal is several hundred pages long, double sided, and hand written in a varyingly precise script. Since October 3, 2008 I have written in it only four times. But I want to finish it, this chronicle of change.

I began writing in a journal after leaving Fremont for Santa Cruz, when I realized that I couldn't recall myself in high school. I could look at photographs and read essays and the occasional melodramatic livejournal entry, but I had no sense of recognition--of self. I couldn't remember what I thought about my life or myself or being sick. I could remember anger, how I felt about those who tried to take care of me. Nothing reflective. It was alienating, and alarming. Like I had lost years somehow; an era of internal life erased, or simply forgotten. And I told myself that if I was going to try and stay healthy, to try and hold onto some semblance of my newfound balance, I was going to have to try and not forget anything. So I started writing it all down. I rarely catalogued events, or even used the names of people I referred to. It serves only as a memory bank, a diagram of my mindscape between December 15, 2005 and now. It also serves as a flow chart, a grim account of Laura's descent into illness and my fraying mental state. This may all sound awfully awful, or boring, or just unappetizing. But I am so grateful to have it, to be able to revisit a time when she was alive. How little I wrote about her when she was well. How little I've written about her since her death.

I will need a new journal, and to think of that makes me somehow so hopeful. It is a sign, maybe, that time is moving along. And how I wonder what will fill it, what names I'll omit and events I'll neglect to include. What I will think of myself, how my handwriting will change. I hope that it will take account of happier things than the one that came before.

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