I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was thirteen. Inspired to journal after reading The Diary of Anne Frank, my first diary was a cheap purchase from Kmart (it cost 99 cents), but it had a sturdy lock and key. And I needed that lock and key to guard all those unflattering character sketches of my peers and the embarrassingly gushy descriptions of that sophisticated freshman boy “who had math class next to my math class and the coolest blue braces that matched his eyes…sigh….” One day, my fear of someone reading my journal overcame my better senses and I ripped up all the pages into little pieces, scattering the incriminating evidence to the wind. I’ll regret that action for the rest of my days.
Over the years, I’ve kept journals in all shapes and forms. There were the old fashioned black and white composition books which were relatively inexpensive but sturdy and served its writing purpose; though the unsightly wide-ruled lines were, and still are, so displeasing to my eye that I will never journal in a composition book again. There were spiraled journals, an Anne of Green Gables- themed journal, and a pocket-sized suede journal that gave off the delicious scent of aged leather every time I opened the cover.
I love journals. I love the feel of them, the undifferentiated possibility of a blank page, and the reckless penmanship toward the end when you want to fill up the old journal because you have a fresh new one awaiting you. And then there’s the question of pens: in my teen years, I wrote with multi-colored gel pens, but as I matured, I realized that such extravagant writing instruments were a waste of money, so now I employ a humble ballpoint.
To my shame, there was a dark period when I neglected my journals for the almighty Xanga. I too fell through the cracks of the technological revolution only to return to hand-journaling like a prodigal son.
I journal to document my existence; I want to remember myself in all stages of my life. Online journals could be easily deleted; tangible notebooks, if kept away from a bonfire, are historical documents a hundred years down the line.