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The Notebook

Last week while I was visiting my sister Melanie, she shared one of her old journals with my mom and me.

My mom remarked that she remembered the journal being part of a homework assignment that spanned an entire school year when Melanie was in third grade, but never read any of the entries as that would have been an invasion of Mel’s privacy, so when my sister not only showed us the journal, but urged us to actually read some of the entries, my mom let her curiosity get the better of her and wound up reading the entire notebook over the course of a couple of evenings.

Some passages my mom read aloud, and it was definitely interesting hearing my older sister’s perspective on events that happened when she was 9 years old, as I was just a baby back then and therefore not exactly aware of the happenings in the world and our family. I learned a lot about my older sister just by listening to Mom read some of her old journal entries aloud, and in some ways, the journal enlightened me to some of the things I did or said way back then.

Third grade was apparently a rather exciting and eventful year for Melanie, as she managed to attend her first baseball game (which happened to be a Cards game during the playoffs… go figure), broke her foot, started to learn sign language, and contracted a terrible case of the chicken pox. In addition to recording those events, Melanie also spent quite a bit of the journal chronicling the activities and development of her real life baby doll (me), which was one of the most interesting parts of the journal when I read over some of the entries.

I’ve always been fascinated with looking through old photo albums and reading what’s been recorded in my baby book, but being able to read about how on certain dates I learned how to say a particular word, or that I often referred to my mom as Jo rather than Mom even as a baby was pretty cool, since those types of specific details aren’t exactly things my mom recorded in the baby book.

Sure, the day I spoke my first word is listed in my baby book, but Melanie’s little notebook recorded the day I spoke my first real sentence–February 26, 1986. Prior to reading the journal entry pointing out such a milestone, I’d always thought my mom was joking about my apparent lack of speech and how as a baby/toddler I didn’t babble or really start talking until the one day when I just started speaking in full, grammatically correct sentences (and haven’t shut up since).

Even though all of my siblings and I attended the same grade school, I don’t recall having any assignment like the year-long journaling project, and that makes me a little sad and also envious, because I’m curious about what the 8 or 9 year old version of myself would have recorded. Recording a highlight of everyday is something I’ve started doing as an adult (sometimes on the blog here, and others in private journal entires), so in 20 or 30 years I’ll be able to look back and see what I felt was important in my life now.

Reading Melanie’s grade school notebook was a good reminder to me that even on days when I don’t feel like writing anything, I should at least spend a few minutes trying, instead of just giving up and letting a memory possibly vanish. I’ve tried other techniques for recording memories, such as apps that organize photos into a neat slideshow, but never seem to be able to keep up with those things as well as a simple pen and paper or typing up my thoughts daily into a word document.

Do you keep a daily journal or another method of recording memories you might want to visit in the future? Or, if like my sister, you have old writing/journals, have you gone back to read them to see what you recorded years ago?

One Response

  1. Joe Babbitt says:

    When I saw the title, I thought that you finally caved and saw the movie, at which point I would have no choice but to name you a betrayer to the cause and an enemy of the state. I’m glad this was not the case.

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