Monday, July 19, 2010

Memory Collector

Many people collect things, from paintings, to baseball cards, right down to magnets.

I collect memories. Maybe you do too.

We don’t have to shell out much money for those, although some have cost more than others. The limit is the moon. I’ve been chasing down memories for years, and they are now sitting on porches,watching the sun rise. And I’m thrilled they are remembering, lest I forget.

I’ve laid my hands on black tie memories, champagne corks popping all over pages. There are also those that creak and wail under the weight of sorrow and loss. Life drags us down rutty dirt roads as well as slick glossy highways, and a diary travels them all. Capturing our feelings and writing them down; that’s why we write, to peel back layers of life and hold them up to the light.

Above is a picture of my latest diary, fancier than most, but Audrey Hepburn just spoke to me, so I couldn’t resist.

My first diary was started back in 1995, which puts me at fifteen years worth, and eighteen diaries, minus one year, 1999. That particular diary was lost six months after moving to Texas from Missouri. I’d put it on the back of my car to check the mail before heading to school to wait in the carpool line, where I sometimes made diary entries. Running behind, I jumped in the car, not remembering the diary until a mile or so down the road. We searched high and low, to no avail. Either it had fallen into a muddy ditch, or had landed in someone’s hot little hands. Girlfriends were calling every day to see if I’d found it yet, intrigued with the idea that a man might have discovered the diary and was reading about my life.

I cried.

Ye gad! Every little “for my eyes only" entry waltzed in my memory, some taking a bow, some tripping in front of me, making me cringe. But after the initial shock died down, I had the plot for my novel, The Passion Diary. What would it feel like to have your uncensored thoughts read by a man you’d never met? What would happen if he fell in love with you by your words alone? Not that anyone would after reading mine, but heck, I decided to run with it anyway. How would that woman feel if this man wooed her, keeping her diary a secret, winning her trust and love, and then the secret was exposed by someone else who made it their business to know? The diary is the frame the story hangs on.

Even after losing one, I still keep diaries. My youngest daughter is the only one intrigued by them. For awhile, she bugged me to read entries, but of course I wouldn’t. She said, “You might as well let me read them now. When you’re gone, I’ll get my hands on them!” I told her we might need to have a ceremonial burning at my passing.

But maybe not.

One day, when I’m raisin-faced, and my eyes cloudy with years, I might take those diaries out and read every young memory, the lovely, ugly , and funny, those thoughts dashing in and out of time tunnels, reminding me how much I lived, loved, lost and gained. The far will be near again, the near, nearer.

And, ahem…if someone out there did happen to find my diary, all those years ago, please just stick it in my mailbox, no questions asked.

What about you, do you keep diaries?


  1. I collect memories as well, especially on film or SDcard. I'm just starting to get into memories on video...

    I dinna keep a journal, so to speak, but most of me poetry is from what I've experienced( especially the Tankas. )

  2. Yeah, Subby, poetry is a soft way to capture memories also, without the privacy issue diaries present. Also pictures and paintings, which I love for that reason.

  3. well now that you ask about that diary...smiles.

    i have kept them for about 8-9 years...they collect poetry, story ideas, little snippets sometimes only a word or two...sometimes more...these are great places to mine for stories and memories...

    nice post.

  4. Ha, just keep it to yourself, Brian!

    That's great that your write down your memories. Very true about mining for stories. I find all kinds of description, regarding places and events that I use. Kind of like a fresh bowl of words.

  5. I don't keep a diary; I'm too lazy for that. I keep however pictures, and as you know "A picture is worth a thousand words".
    Audrey Hepburn's face is lovely, and so is your writing.

  6. I know you don't have a lazy bone in your body, Duta! Anyone who can write blog posts like you do, could not.

    And, yes, word pictures are a perfect way to capture memories. And easy, too.

    Thanks for the kind words. :-)

  7. Dorraine,

    I think it's highly possible that someone picked up your diary and read it. And it's highly possible that the person was a decent man because most people are. By reading your blogs, if the man were about your age and sensitive, I'm sure he fell in love with you. But, did you leave your phone number? No, right? So, he couldn't make a call.

    Can this be your third novel?

  8. Yeah, I collect memories - what a shame we can't swap our "doubles". Or perhaps there aren't any, come to think of it! Great post.

  9. Oh, Keiko! You are too cute. And funny. No phone number, thank goodness.:-)

    This is actually my second novel. I'll be starting a third in the fall.

  10. Yes, a shame indeed, Dave. Thanks so much!

  11. I think writing diaries is lovely and it's so cool that your daughter wants to read all your diaries and soak up all your memories.

    My problem is that I've never been a diarist myself. I'm getting better at it, like with my blog and writing about my travels, but I can't just write a diary for myself, never to be read by others. It's too hard for me to write about myself.


  12. In a way, though, keeping a blog is a form of diary writing, Jai.

    As far as writing about yourself, it's not really that as much as writing down feelings about events. Most of my writing is centered around my kids and where our family has been, and just every day happenings.

    It's wonderful to look back. One day, long ago, my middle daughter and I were outside after dark and we looked up at the sky. I said, "The moon is full, Mattie."

    She replied, "It must have ate too much."

    Priceless things like that are why I keep diaries. :-)

  13. "The moon is full, Mattie."

    "It must have ate too much."

    That is hilarious! I'm in the library right now and am getting looks because I keep chuckling out loud.


  14. Thanks, Jai! Can't put a price tag on that one. :-)

  15. thanks for popping in tonight... i read lonely bones...was the movie any good...i have been holding off...

  16. I've missed reading your blog, Brian. We've had to get two of our girls moved this summer, one to Missouri and one to California. A busy time.

    I tried to read the book-Lovely Bones- but I just couldn't. There were so many details, I just couldn't take regarding the abduction. You know, when you have kids, these things are truly creepy.

    For some reason, I finally screwed up the courage to watch the movie, though. I loved it, although it was a very emotional experience. I'm sure the book is better. It's so difficult to capture a book in two hours time.