24.4.09

Purgation

I have purged. Not my last meal, but parts of my past (sort of).

For years and years I kept a daily journal where I kvetched and analyzed and parsed every moment of my life from the time I was in high school until a few years ago. Volumes of idiocy and angst. Page after page of heartbreak and outrage and hurt, charts of the guys I liked, musings on war and racism. Each journal also contained lists of books and bands, lyrics, poems, quotes (although I had whole separate books where I kept quotes), stickers, nail polish colors, places to meet friends, flowers, drawings, numerology charts. For each journal I rigidly wrote in only one color. The last few were in green - the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Point. Every one finished off with Shakespeare, "The rest is silence." Appropriately dramatic. At some point in my late 20s, I just sort of stopped.

I have dragged these volumes from pillar to post. For the five years that I lived in Los Angeles, they were ensconced in a sealed box in my closet. Recently, Matt asked me why I kept them. It seemed like a stupid question. I told him that I keep them because they're part of my life. Part of me. We actually had a fight about it.

I moved around a lot both with and without my family. I think I keep things because that way, wherever I go, I have everything I need. The familiar. But when I thought more about the journals specifically, I wondered about why I needed them anymore. I hadn't looked at them in years. I know how I got to be me. I remember almost everything - even the things I wish I could forget... So I started to really think about why I needed to keep these relics of my past and what they represented in my life now.

I read through them. They were funny, sad, pathetic, naive, angry, inquisitive. Mostly, though, what they were was obsolete. I've been dragging them around out of habit and also as a means of comfort - even though they were relegated to storage for years at a time.

One of the weirdest realizations is that I've let most of the people and places contained in those pages go. Some of them willingly and necessarily and others less so, but let them go I have. That made the continued possession of these bound pages even more needless.

After I'd looked through them all one last time, I took them to be recycled. I always thought that I'd fall apart without them, that they were integral to my life, but they're part of me so I don't have to keep the pages. The catharsis was always in the writing, not in the reading or the maintenance of the journals themselves. And now that they're gone, I feel lighter. I feel like they were keeping parts of the past too close. So I've doubly purged. First onto the page and then into the trash.

I'll probably always keep a journal of some kind - for ideas, for lists, for things I overhear, but the need to pour my soul onto a piece of paper is no longer necessary for me and neither is keeping the emotional regurgitation of the days of yore. Yay.

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