Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Gift

November, 1972:  Like most things from the year I turned 12, the details surrounding my birthday are a haze at best. The only salience is the gift from a rather surly grandmother. I never knew what to make of her actions or the motives behind them. I was too self-absorbed and naive to pick the lock that hid her persona. I accepted the gift with compulsory manners and fiddled with the brass-colored closure glued to its cover. There was the slightest tug as my fingers turned the key in the hole. This meant the lock had been released and I could pull out the little hooked knobs and open the flap and witness 365 lined pages, rife with possibility. Funny, the things you remember. 

Two years later, with all vestiges of childhood behind me, my now-tattered diary with its brief, almost daily scribblings was relegated to the bottom drawer as I committed to a decidedly more serious and verbose pursuit. In my mind it was animate, my 8x10 “friend.” Evenings spent alone were the impetus for my ritualistic visitations as thoughts flowed from my head, down my arm and out my pen, onto what were designed to be pragmatic, scholarly notebook pages. The thoughts were rarely good.

An angry teenager, I hated the world that had wronged me and yearned for a Hollywood-esque panacea to whisk me off to that fabled Happyland that had so cruelly eluded navigation. But after a few chilling lessons taught me about the fragility of life, risk-taking was no longer an option. Self-destruction gave way to drone-like movement along the conveyor belt of life. I suppose it was my own version of self-preservation.

Every now and then, I think about the first diary that dwells beneath disorganized bits of drawer detritus. Like a sea creature in need of oxygen, it rises to the surface and gets a quick thumbing-through before diving under again. I just need reassurance that it’s still there, that tangible object that links me to what once was.

Copyright by Grace Peterson


  1. I enjoyed your look back. I never had a diary, but wish now that I kept one. Things are buried in the past that will never surface because my memory will not share.

  2. Grace, I didn't realize you had this blog. Loved reading about your diary; I had one as a teenager. I suppose it was burned and probably a good thing.

    I'll be checking back with you.

  3. The DIARY! Ah, me...its very secrecy prompts confessions that soon become too embarassing to read, even to oneself. I regret having expunged all such resources to delve into the shallow creature I once was. It might make me more tolerant, no?

  4. I still have my first diary. As well as spiral notebooks that served the same purpose all through middle and high school. They're in my cedar chest at the foot of my bed. It's pretty crazy to catch a glimpse of your younger self. Especially when that person is so different. Well, not really I suppose. Same person, different circumstances.

  5. Wonderful memory of an important time in your life. I never had a diary either. I think it would have been fun to look back. Memories are fleeting so having a way to capture them is wonderful. I loved this post Grace.

  6. Grace, my diary didn't burn in a house fire; I'm sure I got rid of it after I got a little older and realized it was pretty stupid reading. Even now I don't regret not having it.

    Now I more or less keep a journal on my calendar each year.

  7. Hi Grace,
    Wonderful prose to remember those tumultuous years. I too have a diary and while I haven't opened it in over 15 years, I might just need to one of these days. I enjoyed your words.
    Cheers, Jenni

  8. You are such a talented writer! I enjoyed reading your last few posts. I never had a diary, I think I was too afraid one of my younger sisters would find it and read about me deepest thoughts.

  9. Nothing better than good prose, and I found it with your new blog here!

    I too kept a journal. I find it interesting to see what was important then, what each day was like, and even remembering them so vividly as I read it now.

  10. I've enjoyed reading through your posts here, Grace. I kept a diary when I was a child, then in H.S. I kept a 'Journal'. I filled several of them but in college, I threw them into the incinerator one day. Everything gone. It was very symbolic. I'm glad to be free of them. As an adult, I kept more journals and hung on to them for years. One day (many years ago)I threw them out with the trash. I suppose they are in some landfill, completely decomposed by now. I like your short glimpses into fleeting thoughts and feelings and 'moments' in life. I need to try to write more often. I seem to have a 'block' that keeps me from really expressing myself lately. Writing used to be a huge part of who I was...
    Thanks for the inspiration;-)


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