I wish I had never thrown away my diaries. And papers and poetry and notebooks and stories and public speeches (I’m not kidding, I used to write speeches!) that I started compiling pretty much from the time I learned how to print.
Of course 99% of it was no doubt insignificant drivel, as evidenced by the few pieces that have survived the years, but there might have been some hidden gem in there. Now I’ll never know.
When I met ‘the love of my life’ and knew it was serious I also wanted it to be perfect. So I had to be perfect. With no sordid past. One weekend I came home and gathered up all my diaries that I’d been keeping for the last dozen years of my life. There wasn’t time to sort through them or even give much thought to what I was doing. I just lugged all of them down to the wood furnace in the basement, ripped them apart book by book, fed them in small doses to the flames and watched them burn. Getting rid of all the incriminating evidence. I’m not kidding, those were the exact words I had in my head.
I suppose it’s some indication of how important the relationship was to me, that I didn’t want anything to put our future happiness in jeopardy. I thought if he ever found out about even half of the things I did before I met him he’d be completely put off and disillusioned. So all the damning data went up in smoke.
It was all pretty pointless. Turns out he is a complete respecter of privacy and not even all that interested in how I got to be me. I probably couldn’t have forced him to read one of my journals at gun point. He’d have given up after a couple of pages and reached for the newspaper or a biology textbook, both of which he would have found infinitely more fascinating.
So all that teenage history of angst and passion is gone. All the names and dates and crushes and mad flings, hopes and dreams. Although even if they’d survived the years and our various moves over all this time, there’s a very good chance I’d have destroyed them all eventually anyway, if only to save myself from potential embarrassment.
But man, there were a lot of stories in there. The honest truth, because in a diary you don’t lie to yourself. Now I have to rely on selective memory and invent the details and I’m probably not getting it right at all.