A couple of months ago, I was digging through some junk and stumbled upon several teenage diaries. Only they aren’t really diaries in the true sense of the word. I didn’t use them to write down my darkest, most inner thoughts. These are spiral bound notebooks I once shared with friends. Do they have a name? Do they still exist now? I don’t know. They are a cross between a slam book, a diary and the worst idea ever.
Here’s how it works: you write a letter to the chosen friend you’re sharing said notebook with, pass it to them, they write a response and then pass it back. Eventually it’s filled up with complete nonsense. The purpose of these notebooks then? I have no idea. But that didn’t stop me from having four or more going at one time. And I have no idea how I kept them all straight. For example, it amazes me that at no point did I accidentally talk shit about the person I was writing to instead of a person I shared another notebook with. Does that make sense? It’s confusing. Basically, I managed to keep my teenage backstabbing straight. I was sweet like that.
Speaking of accidentally sending something to the wrong person, earlier this year I received a text message from a Brooklyn mommy friend I’d recently met. It read: “GUESS WHAT!??? Michele BLOCKED me on FACEBOOK!”
Can you believe that shit???!!
Only I was Michele. And I didn’t block anybody on Facebook. But this added to the plethora of reasons as to why I did eventually quit Facebook. Facebook has technical issues for one friggin day and I start getting text messages ABOUT me TO me. Thanks, Facebook. Thanks a lot.
Needless to say, that mommy friendship (along with the one I thought I was forming with the person who the text message was meant to go to) ended. But it’s not Facebook’s fault, or the text messaging mishap. Those relationships ended because I was going through some rough stuff at the time—such as infertility and miscarriage—and so I withdrew. Perhaps if I’d written about how I was feeling on Facebook, they would have cut me a little slack. Not that I deserved slack, but, well, you know… sometimes things aren’t how they appear, especially if you’re going by what you read (or don’t read) on Facebook.
If only we had had a notebook…
But I digress.
It was about 5 PM when I started reading the red one covered in magazine cutouts. Emory was with me, building train tracks around my pile of spiral-bound notebooks, occasionally he’d interrupt me with a, “Momma? Whatchoo doin?”
“I’m reading letters from when I was a kid.”
“To remember what I was like as a teenager and hopefully laugh.”
“Oh.” He said, satisfied.
Now, I haven’t ever been able to read more than a page or two from these journals. But I decided I was finally going to finish one. I thought maybe at the end of it all, my story would redeem itself and I’d finally, like, get it. I mean, I’m an OK person. I grew up to be a fairly decent human being, how can these things be that bad, right?
Wrong. They’re terrible. And the existence of these notebooks has me terrified that I might be carrying a little girl.
Every page asked if the other person was mad for reasons that were never, ever specified. It just went back and forth, “Are you mad at me? Are we still BFF? Or are you BFF with Stacey? Do you still like me?” Then the other person would write back: “Are you mad at me? Because if you are, I don’t know what I did wrong! TALK TO ME!”
We were BFFs one day; enemies the next. And occasionally there’d be a drawing of a pink bunny, ESPRIT socks, or MOTLEY CRUE RULES!
Well, I got almost the entire way through one of the notebooks when something shot off inside my head. Behold, it just so happened I was inches away from a shredder. My thought process: if these pages cease to exist, perhaps that part of my past could as well. At the very least, there will no longer be any proof. AWESOME.
(Wait, it’s just now occurring to me: has social media become today’s “Letter Notebook”? I’ve got bad news, teens of today: you can’t shred the Internet.)
It was about 6:30 PM when I started tearing pages from the spiral bound notebook and feeding them into our shredder. And it felt amazing. Watching those pages turn into confetti made me want to throw a party.
“Momma, watchoo doing?”
“I’m shredding letters from when I was a kid.” I said.
“Because your mother was silly.”
“Honey, I wish I knew.”
Right as I grabbed another batch of pages for the shredder, Toby Joe walked in.
“What the hell are you doing?” He demanded.
“I’m shredding my notebooks because I was pathetic and embarrassing.”
“But that?” He said pointing to something on the page being fed into the shredder. “That is awesome!”
I looked down just in time to see a crude pencil drawing of a guy with his pants down and a girl kneeling before him. The words: “THIS IS WHAT A BJ IS MICHELE” were scribbled in pink pen above it.
I tried to pull them out, but it was too late.
“Stop shredding your youth!” He said.