Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Diary - Story of a lock-box auction

I was reading a story the other day about a strange type of auction; one in which you bid for the mysterious contents of unclaimed bank lock-boxes.  Can you imagine?  What I can't imagine is that people have bank lock-boxes that go unclaimed by their family for such a long time that the bank eventually auctions them off.  I'd be intrigued at the thought of attending such an auction and at the same time left feeling a little bit sad at the thought.  After all, the possessions in these lock boxes would have to have been treasures to the owners, wouldn't they?  

Anyway, one of the things that intrigued me was that this particular lady said the lock-box that she won contained an old diary, which she read from beginning to end. Here before her were the thoughts and deep feelings of someone she did not know before, but it did give her some insight into the person who had once rented this lock-box.  How neat is that? 

When I was in about the fifth grade, I stumbled upon a little diary for sale at Sims Drug Store.  I had never wanted anything so much.  I don't remember how much it cost, but I remember dropping hints that I would really like to have one as a gift.  Evidently no one felt that I needed a diary.  So a diary was what I bought for everyone else -- birthdays, Christmas, whatever.  Suddenly they became all the rage.  All my friends talked about how they wrote every day in their diary or how they (uh-oh) forgot to write in their diary, how they carefully locked them with that special little key, where they hid them so their parents would not find them (that was absolutely vital).    All I felt was left out of something so big and important that was taking place all around me.  Everyone was recording their lives, I imagined, like Anne Frank did when she was hiding from the Nazis.  Someday their diaries might be  "discovered" and they would be famous.  And poor me, I didn't even have a diary.  No one cared.  No one would gift poor Megan a diary.  

This diary would have been perfect!  In fact, the one I wanted looked a great deal like this one.
The thing I never realized, I guess, was that I could just purchase one for myself.  It was as if, for some reason, you had to be given one.  And it never occurred to me to maybe just get a notebook and write in it.  I guess I just wanted what was popular at the time, which was a store-bought diary that came with a little key.  The little key was really important. 

Nancy Drew!  Oh man, I loved her.  I never saw this type of diary in any store where I lived.  I'd have been on my knees begging... please, oh please.  Christmas present.  Christmas present. 
The thing about young girls is that they write without editing themselves.  In a diary they can express what they feel without guilt or rejection or judgment by anyone other than themselves. The pages of a diary feel safe -- like telling God your innermost secrets, hopes and wishes.  That lock and key is what it's all about -- oh, plus the hiding place.  

After my mother died, I found a diary she kept when she was about twelve.  She wrote the whole thing in pencil.  I will give her this, she was diligent.  It had a definite beginning spot and ending spot -- and a purpose.  She wrote in it every single day, and she wrote in first person, present tense -- as if whatever was happening was happening right at that very moment (and of course, for her, it was).  It was about 1935, and her extended family took on a long vacation from Beaumont, Texas to Arizona to Colorado.  That was a pretty amazing trip for a family just coming out of the depression.  And it's all recorded from her point of view -- what they ate (sometimes warm milk and bread  for supper) and when (late at night, beside a campfire, under the stars), how they slept (in tents), who all went (uncles, aunts, parents and siblings), where they rode in the car,  how she felt when her parents embarrassed her and shocking prejudices. It was insightful and delightful to me, her daughter, who only saw this woman has a mother and a grown up until I read her diary. 





These days I wonder how many people still keep a personal diary that is not computerized?  

Recently, in court, we had a woman who was on the witness stand whose brain loops did not follow a natural course, if you get my drift.  She presented the judge with notebook after notebook of handwritten journals that she said she had kept for most of her life.  She said that she wrote in them about every single thing that had ever occurred to her (I'm not sure if she meant occurred to her mentally or occurred to her in actuality).  They were very detailed. 

The thought went through my mind that perhaps only insane people kept journals?  But no.  Everyone is entitled to jot their thoughts. Sane people  (and insane) obviously have been keeping journals and diaries since time eternal.  These days we have Blogger and Facebook and Godknowswhatall out there on the Internet.  I've even noticed that Blogs can be downloaded into little diary books, should we so choose.  But there is just something endearing about those handwritten diary pages. 

Bob Dylan says, Oh, the times they are a changin'  I guess we better just get used to it. 

-Megan-



1 comment:

  1. Megan, I was one of those who had the diary, and it was given to me as a gift ---- little key and all. I remember thinking that I just could NEVER be honest in that diary. What if someone were to read it????? Now I wish I had been honest and open. And yes, the thought never crossed my mind that a notebook would have done the trick. After years and years, I went back and read mine --- those short, little pages that seemed so important as a teenager. My life seemed so boring as I stretched for stuff to write about. I have purchased old diaries in the past, not so much for the content as for the beauty of the handwriting and the decorative pages they were written on. You are right, though -- seems like a whole life lived and now no one cared enough to keep the diary that was so important to someone.

    And by the way, be a little self-indulgent --- go get that patty melt. It was soooooooo worth it!!!!

    Cora

    May 31, 2011 3:50 PM

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