I’ve been in my new apartment for a little over a week. Tidying up here and there, learning where the light switches are, and figuring out the most efficient way to get around its labyrinth-like hallways. The most frustrating thing that happened was that I couldn’t find the trash compactor in our compound. For twenty minutes I drove around the connecting parking lots, weaving through apartment buildings, looking for it.
In hindsight, that sounds a little bit crazy. During that same week, I broke up with my boyfriend of three years, moved out (alone, in one day, in the pouring rain) of the house that he bought us, and was informed it’s likely that I have an unexpected, serious medical issue. Of all the things to make me upset, it was the hidden trash compactor.
In truth, I feel uncomfortably numb. Shouldn’t I be feeling more? Shouldn’t I be happy and relieved to be out of a relationship I didn’t want to be in? Shouldn’t I be excited and inspired by the new possibilities? Shouldn’t I be saddened and scared of my health issues? Shouldn’t I be all of those things?… Or at least one?
A friend suggested that I get back into journaling. She said that the things I am experiencing is writer’s gold, and if anything writing would be a way to process my thoughts and eventual feelings. After a bit of discussion, I decided she was right. I am doing so many new things; it would be fun to document them.
I usually like buying new notebooks. I find them inspiring. Not only do they start with a black page, but they are also immaculate. The edges are sharp and sleek, the pages are crispy, and the cover isn’t dented, stained, or torn. With a fresh notebook, the anticipated stories are brimming with optimism, the possibilities are endless, and the endings are sure to be happy.
But at this time, I can’t really bring myself to buy a new notebook; the move is financially draining me. Also, I have a bunch of half used notebooks lying around. As I started to browse my bookshelf for journals to repurpose, I realized that there was something meaningful in writing my latest stories in an older notebook.
Right now, in life, I am in desperate need of a blank page. I want empty lines and a future that can be filled with words and stories that don’t tie to the past. But unlike a new notebook, I can’t just got out and buy a new, unblemished life.
Starting a new life chapter in anything but a new journal would have bothered me before. I would have thought that I am oppressing and devaluing my new stories by making them share space with past ones. However, this time, it feels cathartic. It feels like real life.
I found a deserted journal that I used to keep random thoughts and notes in, and clumsily cut out the used pages, purposefully leaving bits of pieces of them in the spine. Before starting my first entry, I took a moment to run my finger along the leftover edges of the cutout pages.
Like this notebook, my life is a little frayed and worn, but still full of blank pages and brimming with opportunity. The obvious ware and the traces of cut paper serve as a reminder of the past. I’ve decided to move on with my story line and to leave behind, but not forget, the words and experiences of times gone by.