I don't know how many diaries I bought as a kid. I just know it was a lot, considering I never (ever) filled them up and never had a lot of money to spend. But diaries were my downfall. The key, the lock, the smooth covers, the fresh, blank pages...there was so much potential in them. In the Thrift Drug in the center of town there was a case of them, pale blues and pinks, and I would run my finger over them and think, "I can say so much in here!" I never did, though. After a few half-hearted entries they'd fall to the wayside, one by one; a graveyard of calm colors dumped under my bed.
I had this yearning to be the kind of girl who wrote in diaries back then, similar to my yearning to always be acting out a scene from Teen magazine, like how, the night before the first day of school, I would almost always hot-roll my hair and put on a face mask and call my friends on the phone, even when I didn't have anything to say and besides, I hate talking on phones, because that is what I thought I was supposed to do as a pre-teen girl; that is the story I wanted to convey. (One year, the mask took so long to dry, and my mom was working that night, and my dad got annoyed at me for not being in bed yet, but I couldn't go to bed because I had to let the mask dry. And then it was too late to call my friends, and even my sisters were near-asleep already, and my whole staged scene was ruined that night. I woke up with red eyes and a lingering hiss of betrayal at Teen.)
Back to diaries: sophomore year of high school my friends and I had a little, fat notebook we called Phat. We used it in lieu of passing notes to each other -- instead, we just passed around Phat, which was filled to bursting with secrets and doodles and song lyrics and crushes and recaps of that day's General Hospital episode. A core group of us shared Phat, with occasional guest posts from other friends. (I like to think of it as my very first shared blog.) Sometime in college when K and I found Phat in our bedroom, its green cover tattered, we realized how dangerous it was. All the original writers were off at college, steeped in new lives and new allegiances, and the level of change made Phat risky. So we shredded it. the only real diary I've ever finished. I still regret it.
Today I found this article about a new kind of digital locked diary, and my heart leapt. I found myself thinking, how could I use this? Would people laugh at me? But what if I kept it secret? Then I would have a secret about a secret diary and...maybe that feels a little much. The drive for a locked book where I could dump everything hasn't gone away, it seems. Even though I know better now. I know I would never write in them.
Today, when I hear other writers talking about how they filled diary after diary as a kid, graduating to proper journals as a teenager, I can't help but think, "Liars." But maybe they're not like me, is all. Maybe they haven't saved it all up to parcel it out, piecemeal, into various manuscripts.