My mother and stepfather are in the process of moving. It makes sense — no need to live in a home meant for five people when there are just two of you. In this process, they discovered many an item I had left there while I was transitioning between various boroughs, finally arriving in Queens. One interesting discovery I made was a real reminder of who I was — Journals.
Early Writing — Or Comedy Audition?
For a few weeks in 1993, I kept somewhat of a journal. However, looking at it now I can’t help but wonder for whom I was writing these journal entries? They don’t seem so much like recollections of what happened to me as they were commentary on society. For example, here is something I wrote on May 3, 1993 about television commercials.
Earlier today I was watching TV, and I rerealized [sic] for the 5,836,791th [sic] time that the people who make ads must think that we are outright cretins. There was a brilliantly thought out ad for home equity loans that starred… no, not a professor of economics at Harvard, but a famous baseball player who was given the label, “Hall of Fame” hovering in front of him. What a smart guy. We’re dealing with another Einstein here!
A few things come to mind when I read these entries. The first thing is that I barely recognize the person who wrote the journal entries as being myself. Reading the entries to my wife, she says she understands how the person who wrote them turned into the person I am today. I also have to wonder for whom I was actually writing these journal entries. I actually answer that question in the first entry. The journal is written “…in case one day, when I’m an old fogey (>=40) I start to lose memory, and suddenly, I realize that I don’t think I had a childhood. This’ll stop that from happening.” This statement is frightening on so many levels, the least of which is that at the age of 15 I thought that I would be an old fogey at the age of 40. I now look to 40 as still youthful.
The Daily Dose of Gordon
From about late February 1996 until the end of 1999, I wrote in a paper journal nearly every day. I would write about a page every day, writing about things that happened to me during the day and thoughts that I had on my life. For a really long time I was quite regular about writing, even if it was just to write that I had a boring day and that not much happened. Here is an excerpt from an entry. Even here, I am inserting a little bit more than just explaining what I did in the day.
Piano playing is going well. I really feel like I am seriously improving each time I play. It’s a wonderful thing, to improve at a musical instrument. The better I get, the easier it is to express my emotions, just as one speaking a language would have an easier time expressing himself with two thousand words than with twenty, though sometimes it seems like that’s all people use nowadays. Young people, that is. Young teenage people.
As opposed to what I was? The year was 1996 and I hadn’t quite yet turned nineteen. While on some level the writing is really pretentious, I really like what I wrote about mastering the basic expression of some form of communication is key to the proper expression of deeper emotional expression. As I continued to read on in the journal, I couldn’t help but realize how fortunate I am that I met Elizabeth when I did. For years my life consisted of drifting from attempt after attempt to meet someone, desperately grasping at straws and getting heartbroken time after time. When I look over at her browsing through the listings on television and preparing to, G-d willing, have our first baby in January, I can’t help but think of how really superb our relationship is in comparison.
Reading on a little bit further to 1997, I found myself delving into the brain space of a deeply disturbed young man — myself, at the age of nineteen, having just gotten out of a relationship involuntarily and not being able to cope with almost any aspect of living. I am grateful for the journal existing because I remember very little of the time period from after my then girlfriend broke up with me until about a year or so later. I was so upset about getting my heart broken that I failed nearly every class and barely passed those classes that I didn’t fail. Reading over the entries, this is not surprising — I spent more time out of class than in it. I imagine that going on the adventures I went on was my way of dealing with life at the time.
Paper Journaling in the Age of LiveJournal
I think the reason I stopped writing so much in the paper journal is because I discovered the wonderful world of writing in online journals. I found out about LiveJournal in the summer of 2002 when usernames could only be generated by invitation. I did not realize that an invitation was only good for one username and took one from an online forum I frequented. I immediately paid back the forum, so to speak, by offering up the invitations that I got by getting a paid account. I finally wrote six journal entries in 2004 despite being an active user of LiveJournal at the time — I suppose there were just some things that I wanted to write out with my own hand rather than typing them on a keyboard.
It was the want to preserve my own history in written form that prompted me to start a paper journal. Years later, I was glad that this passion drove me to write all that I did for the passage of time has pushed the ancient memories deep into my mind, and only my poorly written words serve as the time machine that brings me back to a younger version of myself. I may not always recognize that Gordon Davidescu, but I’m glad to be able to get to know him at the turn of a page.