Friday, April 17, 2015
Finding My Way
Some time ago I mentioned that I was thinking about trying to digitize my old journals. Well, now that I'm finished with my favorite old negatives, I've been experimenting with the notebooks. I pulled out my oldest existing adult journal, from 1989, and began reading and transcribing the first entry.
I'm already exhausted. Good Lord, I was a tiring human being. So much youthful angst and anger and venting. I was unhappy with my job, I felt unfairly treated by my friends, I just complained and complained. Occasionally I made note of important life events, like the death of my grandmother, or happy outings to thrift stores. But mostly I was struggling with who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to live my life.
I struggled with money right after college. I was making something ridiculous like $17,000 a year. But I paid off some minor bills and then got a slight raise at work, prompting me to move from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment. I thought I'd enjoy the extra space and finally use all the stuff I'd collected during my collegiate years of thrifting. But almost immediately I was dissatisfied, and wanted to chuck it all.
I got a laugh from this entry, from March 19, 1990:
"I've been entertaining a really far-out fantasy these past few days. I'm going to quit my job and go into the Peace Corps. I will serve a year. Then I will return and clean people's houses for a living as I work on my creative writing. I will grow vegetables and raise farm animals and rent an old, white, small house in the country. I will get an earring. I will become Buddhist."
I was 23 when I wrote that. I definitely knew I did not want to be just another salary man, with a two-car garage, 2.5 kids and a dog. I kept reinforcing the idea that I just wanted a modest job that would pay my bills and allow me to live my life.
Isn't it funny that ultimately I got exactly that? I did the Peace Corps, I practiced Buddhism, I got an earring. (Two of them!) I never cleaned people's houses, but after all my years in journalism, here I am, working in a school library -- certainly a relatively modest job. And special bonus: I got Dave! I made only brief forays into vegetables and never did farm animals, which is just as well.
Anyway, I'm still on the fence about transcribing all this writing. Aside from the fact that it would be a lot of work, I'd struggle with the editing. I don't want to transcribe (or make public, God forbid) all my complaining and angst, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to whitewash my experiences. It's worth remembering that I struggled, that I was trying to find my path and I was occasionally unhappy. Right?
So, I don't know. Maybe I'll just keep the notebooks bundled up in my closet.
(Photo: Discarded furniture in Colindale, March 31.)