I happened across my diary last night, mostly, because I was looking for it, but still I found it. I hadn’t written anything in it for over 18 months, and the previous entry before that was at least six months. I was disappointed. I like keeping a diary and it hardly serves it’s purpose if it never gets written in.
There’s something so romantic about a beautifully bound tome; a record of one’s life. It really appeals to me. Every time I see a lovely, leather-bound volume wrapped with a leather strap, the pages yellowed with time, weathered, I want to write in my own, only I never do. It takes time I feel like I don’t have. It takes concentration I’m not often prepared to give. Distractions abound and self-doubt and internal criticism can lessen the pleasurable impact of the act itself.
I’ve kept a diary since I was twelve years old. Of course, I always called it a journal because “diary” was just too effeminate. “I don’t think you should call it a diary,” my sister, my biggest fan, told me. “I think only girls keep diaries. If a boy keeps one it’s called a journal.” Perhaps that’s true. Perhaps it’s not. Perhaps it was once true and now, no one cares. Perhaps times have changed. Whether you call it a journal, or a diary, or a personal history, or letters to myself, it was mine. It was the story of me.
In the 7th grade the school play was The Diary of Anne Frank. In the 9th grade I read the book. I began to think about what it might be like, some time, many years from now, for someone to come across my diaries and make a story out of it. What if one day The Diary of Kevin Riggs was a best seller, a hit play, a block buster movie? This of course is never going to happen. There’s nothing extraordinary or exciting or particularly moving about my life that it should be worthy of such a treatment. But in those younger, more hopeful, more impressionable days, I didn’t know this harsh reality and so I wrote my diary/journal/personal history/letters to myself as though someone, somewhere would someday read this chronicle and want to be able to make sense of it. Failing that, I wrote the pages as though, some day, I would read them, senile and befuddled. I wrote explanations about who people were, with nearly every entry. I explained in excruciating detail about things that either didn’t really matter, or I was sure to remember forever and for always. Each new book represented a “chapter” in my life. Each was labeled in the front cover, “Chapter 9, Wednesday, November 3, 2004 to Saturday, August 11, 2007”. It would take that long to fill the pages because my writing was so sporadic.
I’m on Chapter 10 now. The book is only half full and what’s here is such mundanity, I wonder if I wasn’t just putting things in there for the sake of putting things in there. There are magazine clippings, photographs, theater tickets, song lyrics, snippets of writing from other places… I’ve even got hotel room keys glued to the pages of my diary; souvenirs of places I’ve been, trips I’ve taken. (Apparently I needed a souvenir of my grandfather’s funeral and the hellacious trip I made to attend it.) I never wrote as often as I wanted to, or felt I should, because it always ended up taking a long time to write everything I was thinking about. And then it seemed like the only time I wrote was when I was unhappy, which granted was often, many of my diary entries are about wishing I would die. Some of what I wrote about, I’m just plain embarrassed by, but who cares, right? I mean, it’s my diary, not like anyone is going to see it, right?
Six years ago, when Michelle and I were moving, one box never made it to our new apartment. One box. One box. This box contained the first seven “chapters” of my life. Seven books. Seven diaries kept since I was twelve years old. Gone. Forever. I was devastated. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I’m still hurt.
Two and half years ago, I began blogging and I started doing all my writing on the web. The web, as far as I know, will never be packed away in a box and left sitting on the side-walk by the professional movers you hired to transfer your entire existence to a new home. The web will never disappear entirely taking with it all record of your thoughts and feelings no matter how adolescent and embarrassing they may be. Someone, somewhere, may well have read the first seven chapters of my life. I can only imagine what they might have thought.
I enjoy blogging. It’s faster (and even this takes me a while sometimes, to make sure that everything is just right, that the formating is correct, that the wording is acceptable for public consumption.) Sometimes, though, I find myself holding back. I know I’ve written about this before and the comments I get are always words of encouragement to just be myself and write what I want to write, but the truth is, I don’t want to bore people, or worse annoy people, with my constant whining, bitching, complaining about being done wrong, mistreated by someone or just generally being pissed off. I don’t want this to be the blog about the gay guy who just can’t get over all his baggage and live his life, even though that’s who I am.
And I worry about offending the people who already read this blog. The following is small, but between the comments that are left here, the occasional e-mails that I get and mentions on twitter that follow the auto posting, I “know” the people who read this. You’re my “friends”. I wouldn’t even use the quotation marks, except, I’ve never actually seen any of you in person, face to face. But you’re still my friends and frankly, the thought that I’d offend, or annoy, or turn you off, the idea that you might tire of my words and stop reading, well… that rejection would hurt me. So I try to make my blog posts fairly…. consumable?
So between the length of time it takes to write (hand or type) and the desire not to lose anyone, I go lengthy periods of time without writing anything at all (which only serves to lengthen the next post and the time it takes to write it.) The problem is, writing really does help me. It can be cathartic! Even if it doesn’t resolve anything, there’s a true relief in getting my thoughts and feelings out of my head and onto “paper”.
And so I wonder: What if this blog were “grittier” than it is? What if I stopped putting on the “public” face that you normally see? What if I wrote about my deepest darkest feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt? What if I wrote about my fears of never being able to have a relationship and the honest terror that surrounds the subject of sex and intimacy? What if I vented all my frustrations and anger and sadness and feelings of loneliness and betrayal? What if I wrote all the things I think about, and not just the few things I’m able to pull from the ashes of my psyche that seem like they might be acceptable for public consumption? Would you still read? Would you still respond? Would you still be my “friend”?
I’ve given serious thought to starting a second blog. One that would not be private, but would not be linked directly to this page either. I’ve thought of having a place where I can dump all those feelings and fears and doubts and maintaining this page as the “happy, shiny face of Riggledo”. But then I wonder how hard it would be to keep track of what should go where. Would I post things here that should go there, and vice versa? I wonder if I’d be doing all of you a disservice by not giving you the chance to know all of me.
I need to write more. I need to write in my diary more. I need to get more of these thoughts and feelings out of my head and into my car– no wait, that’s a song…
I need to get it out of my system. Writing and talking seem to be the only way to purge the emotions and get some sense of peace. Talking to the cat doesn’t cut it though and I can only afford to see my therapist once every other week. Why writing helps when thinking doesn’t, I don’t know, but it does. And I need to do more of it.