I once witnessed the aurora borealis dancing through the sky as I drove back to Milwaukee. Another time, I saw a humongous harvest moon rise up seemingly right in front of me.
This past trip down, I listened to the album, “American Beauty” by the Grateful Dead for the first time. How did I not know about this album earlier in my life? I remembered the deadheads in high school: Umbro shorts, tie-dyed concert tees, outfitted with thick white socks and Addidas slipper sandals, and I wondered how it happened that I wasn’t a hippy in school. Maybe hippies were too open for my dark and vulnerable disposition. I was a thug; sharp high hair, teased big and sprayed strong to yield off the assholes.
The songs on my newly discovered album fit perfectly with the scenery of my drive. Red-winged black birds flashed their crimson pillows as they darted in and out of the sumac bushes. Trees twisted and tangled their dark bare branches, old and strong, up towards the sky. In them, I could sense they were again awake and alive, vibrating a hum of green.
This long stretch of road gives me time to think, sometimes to cry; a chance to listen to my favorite songs as loud as I want and sing along, however terrible sounding it may be. It’s a nurturing road, a road that asks me to be patient; a familiar road, one that has never let me down.
When I arrived at my mom’s house, I felt the need to remind myself why I wasn’t a hippy in school and went to my old room. Piled on the top shelf in the closet sits a stack of yearbooks that document years I don’t have fond memories of, but I know I should keep, right?
Underneath the yearbooks I found my journal. I flipped through the stained pages and felt the urge to burn it. Love poems to stupid boys and hate poems about how my parents wouldn’t let me attend a slumber party.
I’m thinking of having a spring bonfire somewhere, saying goodbye to that time in my life and throwing the journal into the fire. No wonder I wasn’t a hippy, I was too depressed to be one.
What have you done with your childhood journals and their childish entries? If you’ve kept them, what inspired you to do so?