I’m not into journaling. I know a lot of writers are, and if I never get another journal as a gift, I’ll be a happy girl. I just don’t care for it. Part of me wishes I did. I think about these famous authors who left behind a legacy of hundreds of journals filled with their thoughts and bits of writing, starting from their teen years through their old age. Then I think, “Oh, well. I should’ve started as a teen, and now it’s too late. Besides, you know, I still don’t like journaling.”
It’s not that I haven’t tried. As a teen, I tried to keep a diary, but I ended up writing lame, stilted entries that sounded like I was explaining my life to somebody’s awkward cousin. Happily, those journals have long ago disappeared into a trash bin.
I would happily never journal again, except that my school asks us to every summer when I go off to my summer residency. They like us to record our experiences and then we read an entry to each other our last night together. It’s actually very fun to hear the readings, to hear how others were inspired by what we experienced. I generally write exactly one entry during the residency – the one I read out loud. (Sh. Don’t tell my school.)
This summer in Italy, I planned to do a better job, but I kept putting it off so I could do homework or cool off in the pool at Spannochia. Then, in the last days of the trip, my father passed away. When I sat down to write my one journal entry, all I wanted to was curl up and cry. So the journal entry I read our last night was not a happy one. I broke down reading it, and my amazing friends cried with me. And I was reminded how cathartic writing could be, and how it connects us with people, even when we feel disconnected from everything.
I didn’t plan on posting this, but because a few people requested that I do, here it is. I promise to post a much more cheerful piece of writing next week.
I will not journal. I will not sit and pause over what this trip has meant to me. I will not ponder the grieving pietas or the blood-stained Colosseum or the churches with their body parts. I will not write about the Roman roads that often never led home or the wars that showed the darker side of men. I will not think about the Inferno, or the Purgatorio, or a paradise that some men may not reach. I will not journal about an email from home or how Italy has left her mark on me.
Because everything here reminds me of death and grief and him. It’s in the ground and in the air and in all the words we breathe. Age makes me think of wasting, waning time and everywhere I look I see bricks older than a great-great-great me. We’re dying every minute, blowing back to dust. Which brings me back to an email and to him. Which makes me cry. So I will not journal.