I'm in full-on decluttering mode, secure in the belief that, even if you can't tell I've gotten rid of anything, every little bit counts and eventually it'll look like I've really done something. Or so they say.
While in the basement, ruthlessly culling the piles of junk I've held on to for years, I came across a box filled with my old journals. And I mean old -- one of them dates back to when I was 12, a dramatic 7th grader who wore pink denim and turtlenecks with things printed on them and wondered whether her friend David liked her and felt bad because she broke Peter's heart at the dance. Others were written during the first years of high school, with notes passed during class pressed between the pages, documenting things I was too young to realize that I'd always remember, even without a written record.
I've always kept journals, even when I knew what I was writing was incriminating evidence -- as if a big "IF YOU VALUE OUR RELATIONSHIP, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS" sign on the front would really prevent prying eyes from taking a peek. It was enough to make my brother shut that volume and confess immediately, but not enough to stop my first serious boyfriend from reading the thing cover to cover and using my secret fears against me. And still, I kept writing, maintaining a public journal for the snoops and a private one that I kept with me, disguised as schoolwork, at all times. (Nowadays, that public journal takes the form of a few different professional blogs.)
At some point I left off writing in messy script in black-and-white composition books and started writing on computers -- though not online, back then. I'd write things and save the documents to disk, first massive 8-inch floppy disks, then smaller 6-inch floppies, then those hard-cased 3-inch ones, then zip disks, and finally thumb drives. And I've saved them all, even though technology has advanced so far that I can't even access the data from my late-high-school and early-college years.
My old journals. I thought I was saving them for my future kids, so they could see what I was like when I was a teenager and we could all bond over the similarities in that portion of our lives. But the future is here and now our oldest girls are full-on teenagers. And they are so cool and gorgeous and smart and sharp that I'm a more than a little embarassed to introduce them to my awkward adolescent self.
I'm decluttering, and I'm in my late 30s, and I know that big box of teenage angst and bad poetry should hit the curb. Or maybe an incinerator, just to be safe. But I can't bring myself to do it. I didn't even thumb through more than a volume or two before closing the box and returning it to a dark corner of the basement.
Maybe I'll get rid of it next time I declutter. But probably not.
Do you keep a journal? What do you do with them when you're done?