I’ve been reading through old journals. Yes, I keep them, and no, I don’t read them very often. Hardly ever, actually. But after this last move I had a whole bunch of them in a tote bag that I’ve been carting from house to house for the last few years. I wanted to keep them safe. Hidden. Even considered burning them last New Year’s Eve in a mini bonfire I created, but that’s a whole other story.
Talk about change.
My journals have almost always been letters. Letters to friends filled with things I couldn’t say out loud. Letters to people I was angry with, or maybe to God…Oh wait, that was redundant.
The oldest journal is from 1984, believe it or not. I turned eighteen that year and spent my birthday in Paris on the Champs Élysées, while living in Europe as an exchange student.
I left America in a pivotal year for my soccer career, giving up the certainty of a scholarship and probable bid toward the national team, had I stayed and continued to get scouted. I also left a guy I was completely in love with, a domineering father and an almost daily habit for weed. But I took my cigarettes with me, happy to be going to live in a country where the drinking age was still eighteen. I figured between those two things, I could probably get by. So why go? Why then?
Basically, I bailed.
I opened the relief valve and ran, half way across the world. Little did I know, this was becoming something of a pattern for me.
It was the second time in two years that I’d decided to run. The first was when I ran away from home at sixteen. I rode a greyhound across the entire country, which in hindsight was a pretty ballsy move for a sixteen year old girl. At any rate, I was gone for about a month and then–faced with the reality of what dropping out of high school meant for a person’s options in life, became “convinced” to go back home and finish high school. The deal was, if I came home we never had to talk about why I left in the first place.
I did, and we didn’t.
It was that summer that I fell in love. Less than a year later I felt the pull of freedom once again, found out about the exchange program, and pulled the trigger. I found myself in Paris on my eighteenth birthday, walking the Champs arm-in-arm with a group of French and Belgian students I’d come to love, and a girl from Australia named Jody whom I’ve never thanked properly for getting me through that year.
A lot has happened since I turned eighteen. I’ve given up soccer, cigarettes, weed, and my high school sweetheart, but I’m still a free spirit. I still love to travel and hate to be tied down. Come to think of it, when life fell apart last year, I picked up my tent stakes and moved them elsewhere.
I guess some things never change.