Unedited excerpts from my diaries and journals, 2007-2009…
8-13-07 (14 years old)
“Wow! I just read my little (tiny, really) blue diary from summer of ’05. I was the dweebiest little thing! I wrote words like ‘wonderful’ ‘beautiful’ ‘pleasant’ and ‘lovely’! In almost every sentence. I think I was trying to be like the people who lived a long time ago who wrote diaries.”
November 22–Thanksgiving Day (Livingstone, Guatemala, 15 years old)
“I wish I was home for Thanksgiving! Today all the families back home will be having Thanksgiving Dinner and we’ll be eating bland hotel food. We better do SOMETHING special! Yesterday we went to some Ancient Mayan Ruins called Tikal. It was pretty cool to see the old temples and monuments—and we saw a bunch of monkeys up in the trees!”
12-25-08 Christmas Day (16 years old)
“I got little Bella for Christmas! I am so excited I love her! I put the collar on her it is so tiny and cute! It’s green :). Mommy said as soon as I prove myself to take good care of her, she will hand the ownership papers over to me :). She is my dog! Her full name is ‘Isabella Marley Akiva’ but on her tag it’s gonna be just Bella, or Bella Marley. I’m soo happy :).”
6-24-09 (16 years old)
“Camping with Louis was SO MUCH FUN! We had a really nice camp spot, and 2 dirt bikes and our mountainbikes and our tents and cooking things…and Bella…it was a nice camp setup. We rode dirt bikes all 3 days, and it was awesome. Every time I got up a tough, steep, rocky part of the trail, my Louie was waiting at the top…today dad came up and we all rode for 5 hours. It was so fun :).”
9-26-09–Talent Show (at Mt. Ellis Academy) (16 years old, my senior year of high school)
Whew! I’m so glad the talent show is over. It was fun, playing Come Home for Sarah to sing to :). Sarah won 2nd with ‘Amazing Grace’ a cappella :). I had such a nice day, a nice long nap, a nice apple pie and ice tea with my dad, a nice long video chat with Louis!”
(The video of me playing Come Home on the piano while Sarah sang, at that very talent show.)
What is the point of all these excerpts? Well, first of all, I was writing in my current journal this morning (I did not provide any words from it because it’s still too recent 😉 ) and thinking about writing a new blog post about journaling when I decided to extract my dusty high school journals out from under my bed. As I started reading the first one, which I decorated with a narcissistic selfie before selfie was even a word, I realized that in many ways, I haven’t changed much since 2007.
In the long introduction to this journal, I write that “My name, my full name, is ‘Laura Elisa Strawn Ojeda.’ I’ll be taking out both Strawn and Ojeda when I get married.” Yep, I did that, though I do love both names and they will always a part of me. I wrote that “I also have a sister, Sarah Katrina Strawn Ojeda. She is 13. She is a very nice little sister, but we are as different as day and night.” Still true, but in a good way. My favorite things to do were to “Ride dirt bikes, and snowmobile, sleep, exercise, play volleyball, basketball, and do gymnastics, be with my friends, watch movies, being crazy, hyper, and fun, being outdoors, acting (which is what I want to do when I grow up), read, write, be in my room alone, talk to friends on MSN Messenger, basically, I love to enjoy life, live it to the fullest, and be crazy!!!”
I die of laughter when I read those lines. I no longer care to become a famous actress. MSN Messenger is obsolete. Being ‘hyper and crazy’ is not high on my to-do list. I don’t do sports anymore but still enjoy random moments of volleyball, basketball, and especially gymnastics. My favorite book list remains the same, but with additions: at the top is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, and that set of nine books will never lose its place. And Louis and I want to buy dirt bikes again when we have enough money, so I will return to that hobby someday. If we ever live somewhere snowy, I would love to have snowmobiles, as well.
In many ways, however, I am drastically different. I did not share these lines with you, but I was a teenager, thus I felt things deeply, invested most of my time in my social life, and harbored animosity toward my dear parents (more in the first journal than the second). Regardless of all the embarrassing things I wrote in these old journals, I love that I have them. I didn’t realize how many details my memory forgot until I re-read my journals, for I recorded the mundane, the extraordinary, the sad, the happy, the infuriating, and the bittersweet.
Did I do that? No…school chomped my free time like a desperate creature with nothing to eat but my hours and minutes. But I did write all about my wedding day, and I wrote on the window seat of the Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria, Canada, every morning of my honeymoon, and I covered big events and moments of my life this past year. Now I have time enough to include the mundane, and someday I will thank myself for that. Everything I write is fodder for future fiction stories and nonfiction essays, but the best thing about having journals to return to is that reading them is like popping into the past and talking with an old friend—but that friend is simply a younger, stupider, funnier, and sometimes wiser me.
P.S. Do YOU keep a journal, or did you ever keep one in the past? Do you enjoy re-reading them? Have you used things you wrote about your life in your school essays or in fiction stories? I would love to hear your experience with journaling!