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Looking Back to 1967-My First Diary

What secrets were shrouded in your diary?

I began my first diary when I was 14.  My mom was laid up from a bad car crash, my dad had died, and my sister’s health was precarious. In general, my home life was in the toilet, in need of a royal flush.  Every feeling I had was pregnant with hormones, evidenced by the flock of zits on my forehead.

What happened to the happy times of Carpenter when all you had to do was go to school and enjoy recess?  Life was so simple then. Now, those memories seemed like an old tattered photograph.

My diary arrived like a welcomed visitor. New and shiny, it gave me an outlet to confess anything. And I did. There, I could park all my pent-up feelings, and self-doubts about being too tall, too poor, and having a home life that didn’t resemble Father Knows Best. 

As I recall, it was Barbie pink and girlie, and had one of those gold-plated locks with a small key so I could keep my secrets safe. Of course, I never locked it. I just stuffed it in the attic so my mom couldn’t find it.  I wrote in it almost every night when I couldn’t sleep, which was often.

Inside I charted the rise and fall of boyfriends, classes, my developing sexuality and all the drivel that plagues a young teen-aged girl.  Was I developing fast enough? Should I wear nylons instead of peds? Does Clearasil really work?

As I finished one diary, I would plow into the next, vomiting my daily arsenal of seemingly important issues.  At NHHS, it was the now the early 70’s, so there was a fair amount of political banter, the incipient stages of free love, and a smattering of drug use. 

I lost my virginity in diary #7, and charted my departure from Studio City to UCSB. There, my diaries would continue as I traversed the nuances of the Vietnam era, the ensuing bank burnings, and marching for many social causes.

These diaries continued for decades, marking my entrance into the workforce with a smattering of temp jobs.  Eventually, I realized I couldn’t use whiteout without spilling it all over the desk, and that my handwriting was no better than a physician’s scrawl.  

I got out of office work and thankfully, I found a career in the world of advertising. My diary charted it all.

Soon, corporate life dominated the diary, with a litany of promotions, firings and office politics.  All of it seemed so important at the time.

The scribbling continued to keep me afloat as I charted through years of corporate restructuring.  At the time, I thought I was the only one going through this sort of thing. Now, it seems like everyone has a war story to share.

Ironically, when I got out of corporate life, my diary entries pretty much came to a standstill. Hmmm…

The diaries are now scattered all over the condo like dead grenades. Inside each of them is explosive material, exposing my truths at the time, however trivial they may seem now.

Upon occasion, I’ll pick up a volume and try to re-read its contents.  I laugh. Couldn’t I have come up with some profound entries?  Why didn’t I predict the dawn of the Internet or a car that drives itself? 

Although I’m decades removed from that awkward 15-year old, the vivid memories of that era are clear and pure.   Perhaps someone may find them interesting someday, or maybe if I’m lucky, they’ll simply be cremated with the rest of me.

teresa mcgrath September 19, 2012 at 05:18 PM
neat article mary...those little diaries with the mini lock and key were precious...glad you saved them, and can look back and laugh and wonder at those ponderings...i keep one also, and then began using those black/white little notebooks for poems and art ideas, in addition to a diary...i know i have a couple in boxes...
Mary McGrath September 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I think, as time went on, that the diaries became "journals", and I have a stack of them as well. Someday I'll organize them, and wonder why I thought everything at that time was so important...
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