Thirty-One (01 of 31)

I’ve been keeping a journal semi-regularly for nearly twelve years now, and I have made most of that journal freely available to the public through this website. There are entries on this site that I wrote when I was just seventeen years old, and there are entries yet to be posted that I wrote when I was just sixteen. It’s a mystery to me why I do this. As often as I’ve tried to rationalize it, I have come up empty. I think the closest I’ve come to an answer is in the text I wrote for the site’s about page earlier this autumn, which reads, in part:

This site represents my attempt to chronicle the day-to-day events of my life, whether extraordinary or mundane.

As a genealogist and historian, I have long been intrigued by the spare journal entries written by men and women in the distant past. Amidst their passages about the weather and the goings-on in their smallish communities, we are given glimpses into their lives that we would otherwise miss out on. We are apt to find in their writings, however trivial, a piece of their soul, something you could never hope to garner from a census record or a birth certificate. And so, it is with this admiration for the work of those gone by that I have soldiered on with a four-year long project to document every day of my life, laboring under the impression that someday my own paltry writings in this space might lend insight into my life and my time.

It’s been a nice experiment, a worthwhile project, but the time has come for it to end.

And if it’s going to end, let’s end it with a bang.

For the next thirty-one days, the last thirty-one days of my commitment to write an entry a day, I hope to offer you a sense of the writing to come. In all honesty, when I look through the archives I am shocked at the low quality of the writing on display in much of the work. And it is my hope that in the coming years, having finally given myself permission to labor over each piece as I see fit instead of forcing myself to churn something out each and every day, I will show you a bit more of what I’m capable of. That is my hope for the future, but I am struck with the sense that I shouldn’t wait any longer, that I should be ambitious and try and give you something worthwhile right here and right now, instead of continuing to offer up verbal diarrhea on a daily basis during the final month of my commitment.

I have also been struck by how little the aforementioned archives are visited by anyone other than me and the people stumbling across some of the more particularly pictorial entries via Google Image Search. It occurred to me that there is simply so much material that people just couldn’t possibly know where to start. I’ll solve some of this eventually by creating a page like the one Kottke has to denote the various ways in which you might peruse the archives. But I also thought it might be worthwhile to create a couple of “reader’s digest” type entries to lure y’all into the past.

Ah, the wonders of convergence… I need 31 days of good material and here’s a whale of an idea that just might be able to give me just what I need.

So, for the next thirty-one days you’ll be treated to some of my favorite entries from years past, with some additional commentary and insight thrown in to jazz them up a bit. And every Thursday in December you’ll get a big old entry like the one that follows below, concerning one of the prevailing themes from the early years.

This may crash and burn horribly, but hey, at least no one can ever accuse me of lacking ambition…

So, without further ado…

Girls, Musicals, Proms, and Graduation

I started keeping my journal on January 1, 1994. Writing longhand on college-ruled loose-leaf paper, my primary subject in those early days was girl trouble. At sixteen, I was venturing into the strange and horrible world of dating for the very first time. I’d just had my first “date” the previous December, consisting of an evening spent at the local roller skating rink on “Metal Night” in the company of Katie, a friend of Ken‘s who spent the entire evening hanging all over another guy (Adam) and ended up breaking up with me by proxy (one of her girlfriends did the honors) two weeks later. Understandably, I was a bit confused when it came to girls, especially in the early going. And the journal became my refuge, my place to rant about all of it.

The entries written in those first years are poorly written, even for a sixteen year old, and impossibly creepy. That’s why, when uploading them onto this site for the world to see, I opted to add in some reflective entries, written from a distance, to add context. And one of my favorite sequences of these reminisces, as I like to call them, comes from the early portion of 1995, when I was coping with the fact that the girl I had asked to the prom (Tracy) had dumped me, which meant that I had nobody to go to the stupid dance with.

During that relationship, which ended amicably enough, I had amassed a whole slew of new friends, many of them girls, girls who I wouldn’t have minded dating, had I had the chance. And it seemed to me that, even though I was now without a prom date, I would certainly be able to find someone. There were so many girls who were friendly with me now that I just couldn’t envision a scenario in which I would end up at the prom by myself.

I guess my imagination just wasn’t working hard enough.

I soon became involved, in only the most high school of ways, with another girl, a girl who I presumed, when the time was right, I could ask to the prom and receive an answer in the affirmative from. This “relationship”, which consisted of not much more than hugging each other in the hallway after homeroom each morning, lasted long enough, but didn’t really go anywhere. The time was never “right”, and before I knew it she was through with me, too.

Which left me in a quite a predicament. During the time I’d been with this girl, everyone else I knew had begun to pair up. That nightmare scenario of mine, wherein I ended up at the social event of my high school career all by myself, was coming to pass.

As I wrote when looking back on this series of events:

The trouble was that all of my friends were taken or not interested or someone disapproved or something. Everyone wanted me to be happy but nobody wanted me to be happy with them.

I kept busy with my schoolwork, with my comic book, and with extracurriculars like The Voice and stage crew for the musical, Brigadoon. And, for a while, it did help in keeping my mind off of things, even if that damn musical did mark the beginning of serious lower back trouble that plagues me to this day:

...During the first night of the show the lighting guy had his cues fucked up and brought the lights up on us during the middle of a scene change. He quickly remedied the situation but we had to rush and work even harder to get the shit off the stage that time. My back, which had already been kinda sorta fucked up from a number of things, totally gave out on me. I spent most of the next scene lying on a makeshift bed out in the hall.

But eventually I had to face the fact that, if I wanted to go, I would have to go alone, which is what I did. Dad drove me into Boston in the Tempo—I didn’t even have the presence of mind to ask for a ride in someone’s limo—and I spent most of the night by myself at a table full of jocks and their seemingly unapproachable girlfriends. That is until a friend of mine found me and pointed out where the vast majority of people I hung out with were at. In the end, I should’ve just stuck with the jocks, because:

All the girls I’d asked or thought of asking were at the same table. It was very frustrating.

Tracy was the first to try and get me on the dance floor, trying to get me to dance along to the “Electric Slide” in vain. I wished she had picked a slower song, not a slow song, just a slower song. I would’ve liked to have had a couple of minutes with the girl who had said she was going to go with me all those months ago. The Electric Slide was a nice gesture though, and I?m glad she even offered me that chance.

I did dance a couple of times but not much. I think I might have danced once with Meg, or else she asked me and I didn?t dance and she got on my case for it later. I definitely remember dancing with Di. If there was anybody else, I?m not sure.

When it was winding down I remember spending some time with Tracy, Shawn, Amity, and Pete by the stairs. Dad poked his head up, not enough to “embarrass” me, but enough to let me know he was there to rescue me if I wanted. I said my goodbyes and let Dad take me away. I had had enough.

And it just never got easier from there, not until sometime in 1998 when a secret admirer admitted her crush and changed my life forever. But that’s a story for another time.

This chapter of the story came to a close, at least to some extent, on that June day when I was finally done with the rigors of high school. Graduation had been scheduled for a Saturday evening, but was called off due to thunderstorms. By the end of the day Sunday, after the rescheduled ceremony and a smallish party at my parents house, I was ready to move on:

I did take off for a half-hour or so after the family started heading home, trying to find a party at a friends’ place. I had no luck though. I think I knew where some were but I was too embarrassed to go because I wasn’t sure who I would know at any of them.

In the end I just came home and went to sleep and the next day I went to work and it all seemed like a major letdown.

Such was the story of my life in the first half of 1995.