Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look At Journals, Part 2 – The Youth Attempts Short Stories

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When I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things. First, in second grade, it was an ice cream lady. I legit thought that was the coolest job in the world. I could just drive around making ice cream. After my startup idea fell through, I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist in 3rd grade. I doodled a lot in class, so it made sense, right? (I couldn’t draw then and I can’t draw now. But it’s good to dream.) Then, in fourth grade, I started reading the Jigsaw Jones mysteries religiously and decided I was going to be a spy. But the first rule of being a spy is not telling people you’re going to be a spy…which I did. All the time.

21-year-old Audrey still wants to be a lot of things. A writer. A copywriter. An actress. A nonprofit administrator. Maybe the dreams have gotten smaller, but they’re not just dreams anymore – they’re goals. Because dreams + money + a degree = a goal…right?

Maybe. But I think I can learn something from this little fourth grade pipsqueak who wrote in this oddly polka-dotted journal (affectionately called DJ, if you recall.) Which is where we find young a. w. today.

Journal #2: Circa April 2006 – sometime in 2007? (Young Audrey stopped putting dates on her journals. Didn’t she learn anything in fourth grade?) 

As we open this journal, we find Audrey coming to the end of her fourth-grade career. Let me fill you in on who this little lady was at the time – she was about 4-foot-8 and wouldn’t hit 5 until middle school. She had a pair of fuschia courduroys she loved wearing. And a purple hoodie. Overall, a lot of purple. She collected packs of gum in her marker box (which had TROPICAL COLOR Crayola markers, the coolest things on earth.) She wrote “books” (15-20 pages of college-ruled paper stapled together with a badly-drawn cover) and wanted to be a spy like Jigsaw Jones. She also frickin’ loved 4th grade. She did not want to leave.

Essentially, she didn’t want to grow up. She wanted things to stay exactly as they were.

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Her bark is worse than her bite, I promise. “Explosives ahead?” Really? A skull? Especially compared to the saccharine sweet entry adjacent to it (I might still have that teddy bear and his name might be Peter.)

Things haven’t changed a whole lot since the last journal, as you can tell from the front page of warnings. However, I’m sensing much more angst in this small human. She’s starting to grow up and things are changing. For example, her best friend moved away the summer before fourth grade. She spends five journal entries talking about it and writes a (bad) poem.

DJ, 

5! (I counted off how many times I’d written about my friend.)

Well, it gets better. I was upset, then I forwarded a letter to her and guess what? I got a VERY LONG reply! We now write to each other constantly but I still want her to be next to me again, I made a poem, that doesn’t rhyme:

Far Away (yeah I underlined it. It’s important)

I miss my friend so very much, 

Now that she moved away.

I wish she was right next to me,

on that empty swing.

All of those memories are treasures of friendship.

It has been filled up.

END. 

*cue hearts breaking* Feel free to take all the time you need after reading that.

After reading that, I thought about that friend. Inevitably, we’re not really close friends anymore. We’re still Facebook friends and such, but we don’t write letters every day. Kinda funny how things change. There was also another friend I talk about a lot who I barely speak to anymore. A lot of entries were “my friend is coming over tonight! I’m so excited! We are going to be BFFs forever!”

But now we’re not, you know? Like I said, funny to look back and see how that all changed.

Now back to the angst of a 10-year-old.

This young Audrey wrote short stories. For example: Audrey is going to play Laura Ingalls Wilder in a living wax museum for her fourth grade class. She’s SO EXCITED. Until her parents ask her to recite her speech for them. SHE BLANKS. So young Audrey writes this short story to cope:

The girl who became a failure (aka me)

Once there was a normal average girl. One day, her nice teacher gave them an assignment. “I want you to choose someone from history and make a wax museum for it.” The girl was excited. She worked at it and worked at it, and when it came to the eve of the wax museum, her parents asked her to say it to them. (She stands there, looking into space.) She never said a word, and on Monday, when people pushed her button (??????) she never said anything. Her teacher came over and thought she was a jerk and suspended her (I mean, EXPELLED) her for being rude, and no one heard from her again. The end

Girl, you need more confidence. (Disclaimer: She did write an alternate ending to the story afterward and then followed up the next day saying the wax museum went VERY WELL. So it was all okay.)

Audrey continued to dread the end of school. “Tomorrow will be the best day of my life, and the day after that will be the worst day of my life,” she says, talking about PJ day (WOOT) followed by the last day of school. She includes a picture of herself crying “faucet tears.” She later talks about wanting to invent a time machine so she could go back (or “time masion.” Her words, not mine.)

But there’s more deep-seated angst in this small child. I came across this story in her journal called “The guy who could hear anything.”

Once there was a guy who could listen in on everything. So the CIA made him a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy! One day, he overheard his friend talking to another guy. “I was invited to go to Ultra Fun world with two friends, and you’re one!” HE WAS SUNK!

I have so many questions about this story. Where can I apply to be a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy? And where is Ultra Fun world? And why did he decide to abuse his power in such a way?!

I’m thinking Audrey had some insecurities about her friends back then. This is neither the first nor the last time she gives voice to them. When she starts 5th grade, she really wants to make friends with the new kid (spoiler alert: she doesn’t.)

I think those insecurities never go away. They just change. Now I have insecurities about getting a job in six months. Will employers like me? Will I adapt into a workplace environment after being in a classroom for 16 years of my life? Will I find a boyfriend/potential husband who will accept me for who I am? Like I said, they don’t go away, they just change.

There are two empty pages at the back of this journal. Why did young Audrey leave these empty? She signs off the journal at the end of fifth grade, on the cusp of the Young Writer’s Festival (at this point, Audrey wanted to be a writer. Spoiler alert: she still does.) And leaves two pages blank. Of course she would be a drama queen. She just found her love for theatre this year, and that love is only going to get bigger.

Things are only going to get stranger and more difficult for you, young Audrey (who is now proudly 5 feet tall and almost in middle school.) Because – brace yourself – sixth grade is coming.

(Also, 10-year-old Audrey had a crush on Brandon Routh. 21-year-old Audrey doesn’t see a problem with that.)

a. w.

 

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