This is the day I never thought would happen: I just broke open my own diary. Once a primary school gift, I found it in a drawer and I couldn’t find the key. So I used the pin of my belt… this was never going to be a subtle operation.
Uncovered are musings from a ten-year old: colourful writing surrounded by drawings and stickers. Neat school-taught handwriting that morphs into big print letters, trying to awkwardly find a personal style. Subjects from playing in the snow and home work evolve over the years into musings about boys and friendships.
At the grand age of 11 and still in primary school, I declare that “my life sucks” only to retract that statement 2 days later: as I might have mentioned before, I always liked to do things early and dramatically in my life. No surprises there, but what did catch my eye is my love for theatre that I describe at 10. I always thought this grew later but looking back on it, I suppose it was always there.
In the same drawer: other notebooks, used as diaries or journals; sporadically noting down life or just an event like a holiday or a school trip. Recorded bus journey to Rome, or a biology trip to a Dutch island. Names of classmates, school friends from long ago, some never mentioned by name or just mentioned with initial ( yes – boys) in case of prying eyes.
Later notebooks in the UK record the mundane: conversations, what I ate (which is A. Lot.), the ways I keep myself busy…the only way to survive homesickness in my first year(s) in the UK. These are still written in Dutch but I know that I have notebooks in London completely written in English, which is another evolution.
Since that first entry in 1994, I have sporadically noted down moments in my life. Reading back I find entries that make me smile (“No, I was wrong: I still like him!!” – age 14) and some that break my heart (“I’m going to read, cry and sleep” – day two, week one in the UK).
These are by no means special records, hardly Anais Nin, but they are mine, the uncensored me. If I (or indeed others) ever wonder why my focus is not on man and home, the writing was already on the wall twelve years ago…
Two days after my 17th birthday, knowing I might leave soon but still living at home, I write:
“Whatever I end up doing in my life, I’m going to be good at it. I’ll make sure I enjoy it, otherwise it is just no good. I want a happy life, an adventurous life, an exciting life, a fun life and a varied life. No two up- two down with two kids and a boring husband, a golden retriever, goldfish and a boxwood tree.
Being free is the most important thing, make my own decisions and learn how to do things myself.”
Yeah, I think my 17-year-old self would not be disappointed in the ride so far.