I am getting to the end of the book in which I’m keeping my most recent journal. It’s a dark green hard bound book with maroon corners and spine. I bought it over a year ago in the part of Kolkata I personally refer to as Paper Town, a name given because I’m familiar enough with the city to know you can fulfill all your paper needs there and also because I’m not familiar enough to know the actual name of the district.
I’ve been journaling since freshman year of college. When I go back and read the entries of that first journal, I realize that few people will ever really enjoy those words because, honestly, even I get bored. People who journal though understand that that isn’t the point. I knew going in that the value in journaling has little to do with the (very rare) moments your pen scribbles out fascinating wordplay and well-crafted images.
I started journaling because my mother said that she we she had kept one. She told me that she wishes she could remember what it felt like to hold her kids when they were babies. “I remember that it was good,” she told me, “I just don’t remember the way it felt.”
That’s why I started to write things down. Because I can conjure up tastes and sounds, wind against skin and trash burning in the ravine, if only I write it down. Because I can look back and remember the time when Peace Corps was a germ of piece of a life I might want. Because I can run back out to Oxford’s Port Meadow with Caryn and Todd and act out bits of Hamlet from our stage/picnic blanket. Because I can go get ice cream with my little sister. Because I can look back and wonder how I got here, trace the path, my imagination running over my memory like a slow fingertip on a map.
Of course, as you can see above, sometimes the memory found isn’t so spectacular. Sometimes it’s even dark. But here I am, a dozen or so blank books later, a thousand friendships later, 20 countries later, a billion full-of-wonder moments later.