My most prized possessions, certainly the items I would be most distraught if I ever lost, are my five-year diaries.
These diaries consist of one page for each day of the year, with a small paragraph marked for each of five years. You wrap your way through the book and end up able to compare what you were doing on each individual day across the five years.
I’ve almost finished my second and just bought my third!
The first was given to me by a friend at graduation from college in May of 2009, and I’ve filled in basically every day since then. That’s nine and a half years of being able to say almost exactly what I did every single day! Where I was, who I was with, how I felt, what I was reading, what I ate: all this and more is haphazardly logged across the years.
The most interesting thing for me, being such a constant nomad, is seeing where I was on a particular day in each of the years. Some months are now complete for all ten years and I’ve been trying to find a day where I was in a different country/state every year. The closest I can find is all different except for two years in the same state, either Florida, Colorado or California. August is a consistently varied month. So, for example, August 5th looks like this:
- 2009: Antigua, Guatemala. I was taking language classes after volunteering at an archeological site and on this day after my classes I went out to dinner with some friends.
- 2010: I was staying in Denver, Colorado, taking a publishing course. This was the last day so I mostly cleaned the apartment I’d been subletting.
- 2011: I’d moved to Boulder, Colorado and was writing book indexes and doing lots of biking, Lindy Hop dancing, and going to coffeeshops. This was a typical day and included all of those things.
- 2012: I was in Florida, still indexing, and also practicing with a roller derby team. On this day I did yoga, went to the beach, and was reading The Buddha of Suburbia, one of my favorite novels.
- 2013: I was having a terrible time working in the production office of a festival in England (most of the festivals I worked at were wonderful times, this August 5th one just happens to have been miserable).
- 2014: I was teaching English in Moscow, Russia and apparently on this day came home from work, made cheesy noodles, read a P.G. Wodehouse onmibus, and hung out with my housemates.
- 2015: I was traveling in Europe after working in Russia, on this day I was in Lagos, Portugal with a friend exploring the amazing cliffs and beach caves.
- 2016: I was meeting up with family in Paris for my brother’s wedding.
- 2017: I ate brunch and went to a warehouse party in Melbourne, Australia.
- 2018: I was in Iowa, trying not to die. (I’ll be very interested to see what the first August 5th of my new five-year diary looks like and hope it’s back up to the usual standard!)
There is also a book log in the back of the five-year diaries and so I can (more or less) recall everything I’ve read for the past nine and a half years (next book review posts: my favorite books of the past five and ten years). In this second five-year diary I’ve actually managed to fill nearly the whole book log: there have been some epic novel-bingeing years. The year I spent in Russia I read over forty novels, and looking back through the log I’m surprised to discover that a solid fifteen or more of them were of a very hefty variety, including things like Anna Karenina, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Middlemarch, and Winter in Madrid, (all of which I really enjoyed), as well as some epic fantasy and P.G. Wodehouse omnibuses and other truly long things. Lots of curling up in my window seat on snowy days reading, I suppose. Then the year I spent in Australia apparently I hardly read anything.
I think these journals should make for a pretty solid alibi if ever needed. And it’s amazing the way, browsing through the diaries, a few lines of text can recall a precise memory from years and years ago: oh yeah that concert, that meal, that car ride! Things come back clearly to mind that I might otherwise never have thought of again.