Who Was I in 1989 & Do I Really Want to Know?

Find old journals and letters.

This was one of items on my every-growing to-do list since I left my job almost one year ago.  It’s not that the letters and journals were lost – I’ve always known that they were stored away in boxes in our basement, but until recently, I hadn’t given them much thought.  I started journaling in high school and continued it on and off for many years.  The last time I regularly recorded my thoughts in hard copy tomes was during the two-year period just after my father died in 2000 until Chloe turned one in 2002.

As I combed through the thousands of old photos on my computer last week, I started to think about those old journals and all the letters I had received from friends and family when I was in high school, college and living in France in the 1980s and 1990s.  And how I should dig them up and read through them and discover who I was all those years ago.

I found the box of letters the other day and the box of journals a few minutes ago. My heart started pounding in anticipation. Do I dive in? Am I ready to dive in? What will I think of my younger self? Will I like the ‘me’ of 25-30 years ago? Do I even want to revisit the ‘me’ of 25-30 years ago? What stories will the letters from my friends – some of whom I lost contact with ages ago – tell about our shared experiences together when we were teenagers and college students?

As my fingers touched the thin stationery and turned the pages of my old journals, I couldn’t help but think about what our kids are missing in this era of texting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Their lives are a series of ephemeral soundbites. Here today and gone tomorrow. When they are adults with kids of their own, they won’t have boxes of letters and journals to remind them of who they were when they were young, which is a bit heartbreaking.I took the covers off the boxes and peered inside. I quickly glanced at a couple of journals and letters. I read a poem I had written when I was 17 and I blushed. And just as quickly as I had opened the boxes, I closed them and put them back on the shelf.  I’m not quite ready.

I am both excited and terrified to travel back in time. I know I will find many conflicting emotions: hope and despair, optimism and pessimism about the future, love and hate, confidence and insecurity…essentially all the drama of a teenager turned young adult trying to find her way in the world.

Although I wasn’t ready to face my past today, I won’t be able to resist much longer. The letters and journals beckon me. It’s almost time to take the plunge.

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