Listening to: “River” – Joni Mitchell
I don’t have time to be going all bloggy now, I’ve got shit to do–but isn’t that always the time when I write in this fucking thing?
Rooting around my drawers today, I came across my old travel journal from my 6 months studying abroad in London my junior year of college. Well, from only 3 of those months actually. I kept a different journal during the first 3 months. It was a Moleskine notebook. I lost it one spring day in a field in Surrey. At least, that’s the last time I remember seeing it. There’s even a picture of me writing in it that day:
I was on a hike around the countryside with a friend’s school group. We had ducked into a random old church (aren’t they all in England?) that turned out to contain the oldest wall painting in Europe. Or somesuch impressive historical statistic. It had been covered over during Henry VIII’s reign, because goons were going around the countryside in the wake of the “Reformation” destroying Catholic or Pagan-leaning paintings. In the mid-20th century, people restoring the church knocked into a wall and found it, perfectly preserved, hidden behind. I put 40 pence into a wooden box for a postcard of the mural and stuck it in my journal and walked out of the church with it in my hand. We continued on through farmers’ fields. Later, on the Tube back to my flat in East London, I realized it was missing from my bag.
I think of all the things I’ve lost or misplaced in my life (and there have been lots), if I could reclaim any one of them, it would be that journal. It had recollections, sketches, souvenirs, poems, and story fragments from my stay in London and from my trips to Paris, Dublin, the Lake District, Oxford, Bath, Peterborough, Brighton, Vienna, and Salzburg. To lose it was… well, it sucks. It sucks a lot.
But I digress; I was talking about the journal I do still have, the little orange leather-bound journal I bought at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2003. And I’m very thankful that I still have that one. I read through it tonight when I found it. This one has the goods from Barcelona, Madrid, Mallorca, Rome, Venice, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Scottish Highlands, and the airplane ride back to the States.
In addition to all my writing, it’s got Metro tickets, cigarette ashes, tattoo designs, pigeon feathers, rose petals, restaurant napkins, beer labels, herb leaves… It was the happiest and saddest time of my life. Happy, because I was doing my favorite thing–traveling. And I was prolific, and I was learning how to be on my own, and discovering new things about myself, and hooking up with lots of random boys. Sad, because I was intensely lonely and depressed, and didn’t know what I wanted and was racking up infinite debt.
When I finished reading, I looked around my apartment and took a brief stock of my current situation–busy beyond comprehension, a published writer, slowly paying off my debts, a dog in the kitchen, still single (no patience for relationships, mon chers), still a slob, a few days away from 24.
Aw shit. I’m having one of those stupid quarter-life crises, aren’t I?