Perhaps the real purpose of keeping a journal is for the assurance, at some later date, that one is still oneself – voice, hand, and eye as distinct as fingerprints. The years spanned are a blur, but each minute is frozen in crystalline precision. Only in time do the entries divulge what they always were: fragments of a collage being revealed more than constructed. Only in retrospect is it apparent that the picture has not become anything other than itself, that which it was from the beginning.
Ah, the delicious beginning. A smooth, pocket-sized Moleskine. A crisp, over-sized sketchbook. A pristine screen, absent any characters. Vast, beckoning oceans of white. What would each become? Which pages would be lined with borders, each a tiny island getaway? Which with illegible scribbles, stretching cover to cover in wandering stream of consciousness?
Here is the shelf, in catalogue:
This one was concrete, housing observations and insights: Birds. Buildings. Art.
This one was a repository for a wandering mind, adrift and seemingly untethered.
This third one, and its many siblings, were lavish, untidy scrapbooks, filled with quotidian litter: Letters. Programs. Our breakfast. The sleeping dog. Trees, so many trees – some verdant, others bare. From the window, once, nothing but trees.
This handsome leather one was, is, my story of you; but it is, I see, more my story than yours. Here is the day you were born. Here is where you taught me what homesick feels like. Here is my life as your mother.
Here is the present, seeking its provenance in a swarm of orphans, chapters unfinished and incomplete, each bound in black, stacked in the library, by date. Here is the ground for discovery, rifling through the past, spot-checking old reference points and wish-casts into an invisible future.
Only now, from this afternoon harbor, is the familiarity of the anchor clear. Only here does each unfinished journal hook the same distant vantage point, seed the same future port of call. Each loose thread was always part of the same fabric, nothing random or haphazard in its patterning. Each page began, as it must have done, with ignorant intent, unaware that life unfolds not in full chapters but letter by letter, word by word, verse by verse, into one lyrical poem.