Read enough old diary entries and you’re bound to learn a couple uncomfortable truths about yourself. Like, “Why do I do what I do?” “How has my life changed?” and “Why am I writing in a baby’s diary?”
So, that last question answers why I stopped writing in the diaries. I just needed another place to record my thoughts.
On Friday, Oct. 6, 1978, between classes at the U, I bought a 7-7/8″ x 10¼” Mead Composition book—you know, the kind with the mottled black and white cover. I transcribed the first couple of entries (pictured above with a lakefront photo), typed on plain bond paper. In the first entry, written the same day: “it seems that my diary isn’t quite doing the job—but I will continue it for the duration of the year…” The composition book would also prove a good forum for notes to The Crowded Room, the story I was writing between commuting to school and factory work.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11:
“A few guilt clouds are hanging over my head: I haven’t picked up my usual diary in quite a few days now, every day goes by and I’m more and more tired; I sleep every chance I get, on buses, riding to school in the morning with Dad, at home in the afternoons, and right after I finish any homework or reading in the evening after work. I now have the ability to dream with my eyes closed only for a moment.”
Even keeping things going with Jocey proved difficult. While she was home with the ‘flu Tuesday, Oct. 10, I sent her some yellow sweetheart roses and a note that included an e.e. cummings poem. But the past kept calling.
Monday, Oct. 16’s journal entry recaps Friday’s high school homecoming game and the weekend’s events. Sunday I visited Lisa. “We went up to the Burger King in New Hope, had a Coke, and brought our lives up to date. It was refreshing to see her again after such a long time.”
Then I drove to Jocey’s to show off my “new” Datsun: “we sat in it and talked—but I can still hear this: ‘Looking hard into your eyes, there was nobody I’d ever known/such an empty surprise, to feel so alone…’” Coming off her previous admission, I still felt hurt—less by the fact that she hadn’t told me the truth than by the slow realization things weren’t going to work out between us in the long run. We “seemed to leave something unsaid—and unfelt.” And I was feeling guilty about it.
At 6:30 p.m. that Sunday I stopped by Mary Geyen’s. “She was out on the porch watching Battlestar Galactica and we talked along the same happy lines…” I was thinking about the most important young women in my life: “Lisa is happy.” She and new boyfriend Pat had been together for three months and were going strong. “The memorabilia on her bedroom wall has greatly expanded: there are more ticket stubs, lyrics, words, pictures and, a pure characteristic of the beauty of Lisa: a notation on ‘a piece of memory’ of an experience between Lisa and one of her friends (that makes the experience truly meaningful to Lisa): ‘We talked!’”
As for Jocey, she seemed “more undecided, and the most noteworthy thing … is, in her words, her ability to ‘flow with things.’ I believe it to be a ‘day-at-a-time’ concept.” I even speculated about her indecision about us: “I come across to her as very serious, not light-hearted enough; but we are still together and I do not know for how long.”
Lastly, at home with the Family Project, my brother was still in high school, but Dad was determined to put our house up for sale. In the diary spaces for Oct. 3 – Oct. 8, 1978, one continuous entry about that fall’s changes. A ton of guilt. I wasn’t feeling “all-in” about attending the U. I felt too remote from the happy campus community—“Either live at home,” I wrote, “work at home, don’t go to school OR live at school, go to school, play at school [and] stop this crazy treadmill of windless limbo.”
On the other hand, factory work gave me time to daydream and write stories. “Empty, faceless, colorless … nights, exhaustion but productive for myself in the way that I have kept my mind busy—conjuring story sequences, dialogue and additional fantasies.”
So, with the exception of two days in December, the 1978 diary ends.