I planned a post this week about how my eldest is now 13 and how I have a record of my teens in the form of my diaries.
Well, I am sorry to disappoint, but it was too horrendous. Looking back on my 13-14 year old self captured for all eternity in the pages of an Alice in Wonderland Secret Diary (with a lock), it was too awful. I can hardly bear to read the teenage angst and general nonsense I wrote. Just awful.
Only a few years from the first entries when I was about 15 or 16, it became a mite more readable for me, and I found lots of stuff I could not remember, not even when I read it, no recollection of a trip or an encounter with another person. I thought reading about an event would take me right back to it (thankfully not in many cases!). I realise that I am not going to remember every step of my life, but I thought I might remember a holiday for a week! Or a trip on the train to visit a friend. I suppose this is why I kept diaries, my brain was telling my hand to record everything because it had no intention of doing so.
Then out of the pages jumps a vivid memory, very specific and usually a tiny detail leaps up from the page and whacks my memory into submission.
Sometime during the summer of 1985, I started to use a fushia pink pen for a diary entry and I wrote one word with it only, because the ink went right through the page. I remember that pen exactly. I loved the colour of it and the thickness and it looked unusual too and I remember that it bled through most paper.
That same year, I wrote about going to a car boot sale while on holiday in Blakeney, Norfolk, UK and I recorded in detail what I bought there, which I love to read back on. This is the exact sort of thing I still record in my diary, what I bought from a yard sale or an estate sale! When I was about 15 years old, I bought a white shirt for 10p and in a later entry I detailed how I dyed it red. I bought a ‘big blue bead’ for 2p (the bead is in the photo and I still love it, but I didn’t remember where it came from until I read about it in my ancient diary today). I really liked to see the tale of how I haggled for a pair of diamante earrings – remember this was the heady 80’s- and I bought them for 20p down from 30p, apparently the seller was a tough cookie and went down by 10p reluctantly!
There is lots of talk of letters and letter writing and finding addresses for record companies or pop stars. Writing letters to movie companies to get posters, no Google, no printing posters from the interweb. I remember writing endless letters and receiving the same from friends and pen pals.
Another toe curling topic is the clandestine phone conversations which had to be kept short because my parents and brother were in the house and I was worried they might hear my private but vital teenage chats. Sitting on the bottom step with the phone cord as far as it would reach. Oh the horror of being tethered to the wall while chatting mindlessly on the phone…
So amongst the teenage silliness about boys and friend/not friends/friends again sagas, there are a few gems to be found. My faith in diary keeping is renewed, but maybe I should worry about my memory?!
Thank you teenage me for keeping these bizarre and wonderous writings for me to look back on thirty years later. I winced and I laughed and I winced some more. Then I wondered at my memories all recorded in front of me along with little sketches and cuttings and I am eternally grateful to my younger self for making the effort to record all of this detail (sometimes a little too much detail, just saying).
Do you have age old diaries? Do you have teenagers who keep a diary?
Now the big question, would you ever let anyone else read them? I have a trunk in my bedroom full of about 25 books all full of this stuff and I would not let anyone, ever, ever read it. Never never never. I can barely read half of it myself, let alone someone else join in.
I keep a day by day diary now where I record what we are doing, where we went what we are reading and watching. No more angst from me! I started the day by day when my teen was born in 2001 and they are great to look back on and I intend keeping them for as long as I can put words on paper. And yes, you can read these if you like!