First off, big thanks to Steph for allowing me to “fill in” for an entry while she’s away.
I don’t remember when, but at some point in time, I pulled my Senior English binder from its storage bin and put it in a corner of my home office. I probably had the intent of going through it and reminiscing, but it’s just been sitting in the corner for God knows how long. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do this blog entry about, so I finally pulled out the binder, hoping for some inspiration. Talk about a blast from the past!
It’s hard to believe how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve stayed the same over the past 10 years. We had to decorate our binders to suit our tastes and personalities. My binder was lime green and has my name on the spine in purple- very much still me! The front is a magazine collage- words, phrases, photos. If I had to make a collage right now, I’d still pick many of these same images. The back is a photo collage and is the most interesting to me. Ten years ago, these were pretty important people in my life. And yet, I couldn’t tell you what some of these people are up to today. Some of them I still keep in touch with; some through social media and some I’m actually still close to. One of them I recently reconnected with, after not seeing her in years.
Then I cracked it open and began reading through the entries. Wow! Back then, my English teacher didn’t really assign any guidelines for the binder. Nothing was off limits, in terms of what we could write about. It was basically a diary that we got a grade for. And let me just say, I’m thankful that I never lost that thing and it ended up in the wrong hands!
Here are a few observations I garnered after reading through everything:
I was a drama queen! I still have a small flair for the dramatic today, but it mostly comes out when I’m dealing with my husband or recounting a story/event to him. But back then, yikes! I don’t recall acting so dramatic, so perhaps it just came out in my writing. I seriously wanted to smack my 17/18 year old self after reading some of my stuff.
I have a crappy memory! (See above. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember acting so dramatic!) In this case however, it’s a good thing my memory sucks. Whenever I thought about my Senior year, the majority of my memories were happy ones. But you surely wouldn’t know that from reading through my binder. So much anger, sadness, resentment, frustration. So much teen angst! In my defense, I was dealing with a lot. Some of it by my own fault, some of it I couldn’t help. I’m glad I don’t have vivid memories of a lot of that stuff, and actually felt a little uncomfortable reading through some of it.
I was busy! This was one big chunk of my life that has stayed the same. I’m currently a SAHM, but trust me when I tell you that I’m not sitting on the couch, eating bonbons and watching my programs. Even though I enjoy being active and staying busy, just as it did then, it sometimes comes back to bite me in the ass today. I’m one of those people who can’t say no, so before I realize what I’ve even done, I’m tasked out to do 50 different things for 50 different people. And each one of them has to be done perfectly, because God forbid I screw something up or let someone down. I’d never forgive myself! I felt so overwhelmed back then and had such a strong desire for everything to be perfect. I still get that way today, but I’ve learned to let up on myself a little bit, I’m getting better about asking for help, and I pride myself on being a dependable person.
Now let’s get to the best parts of finding the binder. It jogged some really good memories for me, about two important people in my life. My mom and my husband. My mom passed away when I was 13 and while I haven’t forgotten her, you can imagine that as the years have passed, some of the memories have become foggy or faded away completely. Some of my entries discussed my mom and actually reminded me of things I had forgotten. In one entry I said, “If I write these things down, they’ll always be with me”. And how true that turned out to be!
My husband. You could say we were high school sweethearts. We dated off and on. We had our fair share of drama, and then some. I even got to relive some of it through the binder. Not that I’ve forgotten any of that. Ha! Now obviously, 10 years ago I didn’t realize I would marry this man. In fact, there’s one entry where he discusses getting engaged and I tell the binder that I don’t quite think I’m ready for that and I wonder if things will change between us. But through my writing, I could tell I loved him back then and that he was special to me. It was amazing to read through the entries where I discussed my reasons for loving him, my excitement in seeing him when he came home on leave from the Army, my heart break and worry when he deployed, my account of our on-again off-again relationship. If only I could go back and tell my teenage self- don’t stress! Your love for him is real and so is his for you. You’ll put all the drama behind you, he will return home safely, you’ll decide to get married on a whim when you aren’t even dating, and you’ll have one amazing kid, two fat cats, and live happily ever after!
My point in telling you all of this is the writing. The writing and the memories. I’ve always had a passion for writing. As a child, I swore I’d be a published author at 13. That didn’t happen, but hey, I killed it in the Young Authors contest one year, so there’s that. But I digress. Writing is important. Whether it’s fiction or real life, putting the pen to paper is such an amazing outlet. Even if you think you’re terrible, the only way to get better is to keep doing it. Practice makes perfect! Over the years, I’ve lost touch with the writer part of myself and reading through this binder has fueled my desire to get back in touch with that woman.
And I’m so thankful to have rediscovered so many of these memories. Your mind is a brilliant, but tricky thing. It’s capable of making you see things the way it wants you to, be it better or worse. But if you have it written in front of you in black and white, there’s no denying its existence or how it really happened. Just make sure you’re truthful in your accounts! Ha!
And if writing is seriously not your thing, and you’re thinking to yourself, “ugh, I just wasted minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, reading this stupid blog entry for nothing”, then allow me to leave you with a quote that I also found in the binder. Because if it’s not writing, I’m willing to bet that there’s SOMETHING you’ve lost touch with and really wish you could get back to.
“Don’t part with your dreams and ambitions. If you do, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.”
Montana is an Army wife and stay at home mom to a kick- ass 6 year old. She’s a self-proclaimed Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, and writer of the next great American novel. Peyton Manning is her future ex-husband.