Friday, April 14, 2006
Nearly ten years ago I left Columbus, Ohio and set out on the road. Behind me I left the journals I kept for nearly ten years. That was seven years ago. I gave them to Beanie and made her promise to keep them safe from our mother, not because there was anything in them I was ashamed of or afraid for anyone to see, but because they were my declaration of freedom. Those journals were proof that I could still write.
I kept a diary when I was a teenager. In it I revealed my innermost being, my secret thoughts, longings and dreams. I hid my diary, afraid for my mother to find it. She always found it anyway and I was punished for my thoughts and my longings and my dreams. "Nice girls don't think about such things. How could you feel that way? Why would you do such a thing?" Every time my mother found my diary she punished me. I quit writing.
Twenty-three years ago writing is what kept me sane at the darkest point in my life. I wrote about what was happening to me and to the people around me -- and I kept writing. I wrote on legal pads and scraps of paper until one day at a Half Price Bookstore I found a journal and began to write. I wrote every single night right before I turned out the light and went to sleep. I wrote about my thoughts and longings and dreams. I wrote about what excited me that day, what I learned, what I agreed/disagreed with in what I read, saw, heard and experienced. I wrote poetry. I wrote plots for stories. I wrote about my family. Mostly, I wrote about me: who I was, what I felt, what I knew, and every question that came to mind about anything and everything.
In the back of my mind I still felt like that teenage girl hiding her innermost self from her mother because I was afraid I'd be punished. That's why I made Beanie promise to destroy them if anything happened to me. She didn't destroy them.
My mother got hold of the journals and, certain they were all about her, she began to read...
She didn't find what she wanted. My journals weren't all about her. There were some things about her, but mostly the journals were about me, the me she didn't know and had never wanted to know. She was stunned.
When my mother told me she had read my journals, the cold icy hand of fear clutched my heart and I held my breath, some part of me waiting for the pronouncement of my sentence. "You ought to have these published," she said. Her voice was filled with something I had never heard: awe? surprise? shock? disbelief?
That's when I began to keep my journals on my computer and then allowed myself to be talked into putting my journals online, finally coming here. This journal is much like what I wrote on those pages over more than ten years, much like what I still write -- although not every night before I turn out the light and go to sleep. But now my mother isn't quite so supportive and she doesn't like what I am "publishing" from my journals because there are things in here about my family. I guess she didn't want me to publish my journals after all -- or at least not the parts about my family. That's not for public consumption. After all, what's the use of having closets if you don't fill them with skeletons?
So, here's the skeletons that will come dancing out of the closet from time to time. I believe closets are for clothes and linens.
How about you?