I keep all of my old notebooks. Some are completely filled from the first to last page in my own messy, uneven scrawl because I was writing so quickly and rapidly and passionately I could scarcely be bothered to remember the rules of “cursive” writing; ‘dancing’, size, staying on the lines, connecting words delicately together like pearls on a string – these rules are unimportant when writing in a fury, when writing so your hand must keep up with the rabid pacing of your momentary over-active mind.
I keep my notebooks because there are times when they provide me with memories, wisdom, or inspiration; sometimes I start a piece of fiction that remains unfinished and sits patiently inside an old notebook. I might come across it later and only later, will that story find its perfect middle and conclusion. Sometimes in old notebooks I come across embarrassingly bad attempts at poetry. Like this, for example:
Before I knew you,
I dreamed big dreams.
balloon animals, shiny cellophane-wrapped
boxes full of sweet treats,
party favours, expensive champagne,
jot cocoa in pretty mugs,
fluffy wings of regal swans,
rowboats on the Seine, marketplace
scarves, delicate between small
dainty fingers, bony shoulders, held by
Then I met you.
And the big dreams sank, floated into oblivion,
Never seen again.
(I wasn’t born to write poetry. At all.)
Today I opened an old notebook – a hardcover one that I used to use for notes for a couple of my old jobs. Amidst job-related notes, and old shopping lists, there was a piece of paper tucked inside which featured a photo of me when I was about 60lb heavier than I am right now. That girl – the one who weighed 60lb more than the person I am today – was in charge of writing so many of those passages in various notebooks that I keep in baskets in my apartment. If not for her feelings which were buried beneath her sordid appearance, I wouldn’t have these relics which serve as a written document of everything I’ve struggled through and thought up. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I’m grateful that I keep such a diligent written document of my life.