I kept a diary at different stages of my life. Not always and, as it turns out, not often enough.
I think there’s a belief when you’re young that you’ll remember everything. Every new friend, life events, journeys, joys, ups and downs. But of course not.
Recently, while clearing out a dusty box and looking for a specific photo of my late father, I came across two of me with groups of friends.
One is from when I was eight, all pudding bowl haircuts and horrible clothes.
The other is from the last day of school. We are happy about our escape and hug each other in our soon to be discarded uniforms.
These were girls I knew very well. We had chased adventures, laughed, argued and cried. And yet some of them didn’t even stir a memory. Who was that? What was her name again?
My first diary was around the age of 13. It told of friends, would-be friends, the loyalty and betrayal of friends. My (pretty crazy) life was laid out on lavender paper, covered with line drawings, arrows and scribbles.
My first “good” fountain pen, a gold Cross pen bought as a gift for my teenage self from The Pen Corner on College Green, was misplaced about 20 years ago. I was devastated and searched for it for months to no avail.
I had calligraphy pens, tiny bottles of colored ink and nibs lined up on a desk in my bedroom, folders of cartridge paper and pens, rulers and greaseproof paper ready for tracing and lining.
I loved art and was often lost in the mesmerizing concentration of writing in ink, for beauty and record.
My second diary started when I got pregnant for the first time. It was to be a letter to my daughter (how very Yeatsian!). I talked about worries, feelings of happiness and hopes for the future.
For some reason it was in a tiny notebook with tiny writing, smeared with ink. It continued until child two was about three years old, at which stage time itself became blurred.
Between bottles, diapers, job and life, it became almost impossible to carve minutes to capture rambling hopes and dreams.
This diary was passed down to my daughter in adulthood and she treasures it more than I do. In the intervening years I just wrote for a living, which isn’t the same thing at all.
My last diaries are travelogues. Instead of thunderstorms and reminders of everyday life events, I’ve taken to writing down actual things that happen in places I go over the last few years.
These are unforgettable meals and sunshine, Airbnbs, hotels, churches and galleries. Before Covid and now after Covid.
I make no apologies for leaving out work stress, worries about the world, or the mundaneities of life. These are happy diaries of happy times.
The Pen Corner will close next month after 95 years in business. Its showcases, quills, and inkwells are redundant to the SMS generation, and careful engraving is no longer taught to schoolchildren.
Can the humble diary be far back?
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/dear-diary-you-may-no-longer-have-a-place-in-this-world-41568141.html Dear diary, maybe you have no more place in this world