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my adolescent diary continued

Diary #2: a blue brocade cover with silver flowers.

This diary starts the summer before 8th grade and ends the following spring. Its contents are noticeably darker than that of the first diary, which still had youthful enthusiasm mixed in with childish outrage and atrocious spelling. This second diary, however, seems more bored and angst-ridden.

I think a lot about death and sex and getting old and how I shouldn't think about it.

Yes, Leah, that is what you are like: helplessly brooding and self-loathing about it. I would like to say this changes some day, but all I can say is that by the time you hit 30 you won't think about sex so much anymore.

The events I chose to write about in 1994 read like a more sad, more boring Jane Austin novel. I am meticulous about describing the weekly parties I attended: who was there, what we did, and what awful social predicament I got myself into. On one hand the events appear to be normal fun teenage hanging out: baking cookies, listening to music, playing truth or dare. The way I tell it, however, these actual events merely serve as the back-drop for a complicated emotional play. In the world of my diary, heaven and hell hang on the balance of who likes me and whether or not we will make out.

About the details of sexual exploration I am all at once blase, naive, and terrified. I want people to like me, I want to like physical experiences, but I don't quite know what to do when these explorations leave me feeling used or profoundly grossed out. I describe the boy who "kissed like a cwezenart" (good use of phonetic spelling, I might add) and the description might bring up laughter if it didn't also conjure the very real memory of panic. "It was like he was going to eat me alive," I write. Not only were 13-year-old boys bad kissers, but in my mind they were werewolves: sometimes human, sometimes frighteningly out of control.

Of course, for the diary I also tried to play it cool. After a detailed description of the guest list to my birthday party I write:

Hilights of year 13:
The Earth didn't crash into the sun.

And then a diatribe about who likes me at this moment and what I might have to fear from his sexual appetite. Written in the most boring prose possible.

What am I to say about this small artifact of my personal history? Was my adolescence inconsolably terrible? Was I merely "fronting" for the posterity of the written word? Was the diary (like the blog sometimes is) a sounding board to air out unpleasant emotions so I could be happier in my general life?

Who's to say? I don't know if I can really bring myself to care whether my adolescence was pleasant or not. When I think back on this time I can remember plenty of lovely moments. I remember watching Dan walk down the street towards my house and feeling my heart leap in my chest without quite knowing why. I remember an accidental touch of his hand sending electric current through my body all the way down to my shoes. I remember the hair in his face, oh God the hair always in his face, and how he tossed his head to the side to flip it out of the way — my stomach gets queasy even at the memory. But these are feelings that are difficult to describe, perhaps too sacred, and certainly not meant for the lexicon of a 13 year old girl where there is only "like" or "sucks" and "love" is a concept too scary.

And yet over time and tainted by my current perspective, these are the sweet things I remember while everything else fades away. The slights, the confusion, the cuisinart kissers, let these be forever forgotten. This is the reason I wanted to dispose of these diaries in the first place. I want the pleasant firsts to remain in my memory while the difficulty of growing up to be ever hurled on the trash heap of cognition.

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