reading old journals

it’s been wicked hot in kansas lately, like over 100 degrees, & our window air conditioning units are not the most efficient. so i had trouble getting to sleep last night. especially because jared went to bed at like 9pm. (he’s been getting up every morning before 6am to try to get some schoolwork done before ramona wakes up for the day.) so i complicated matters by getting involved in reading an old journal.

i’ve been keeping journals since i was five. unfortunately, i don’t have any of those old childhood/teenage journals anymore. i gave some of the teenager ones a read in my early/mid 20s & wow. they were so embarrassing. i had to throw them out to preserve my sanity. which obviously i kind of regret now. in high school, i had a romantic dalliance with a dude who had a glass eye & he used to prank people with it a lot & i recorded the details of all those pranks. it would be cool to still have a record of that. alas.

anyway, the journal i read last night was from my early/mid 20s, from a period in my life that was particularly eventful & dramatic. it involved a lot of friendship strife. trying to maintain a few notable friendships basically became my full-time job for a few months & it totally did not work out. there were two key players (besides me) in this little dramedy & both friendships imploded spectacularly. so that was definitely a waste of a few months. but one of the implosions has lingered with me, because it involved such an intense degree of animosity directed at me. for years. & because of all that hate (i ran into the person at a show a few years after all of this went down, after not seeing them in all that time, & the behavior directed at me was like something from an old western or something–super-aggressive & hateful), i’ve always thought that maybe i was more at fault than i remembered. i know i made mistakes, including some major ones, but was i really that bad?

reading this old journal was enlightening. i definitely pulled a whole lot of shit that i would never do in a million years now, but i was kind of impressed with how brave i was. i think dating jared for so long has infused me with his new england reticence. people piss me off & i just don’t say anything anymore. but back in the day, i was all midwestern confessionalizing. i was like, “hey, you pissed me off. now what are you going to do to make it right?” i no longer think that’s the best approach to conflict resolution, but it’s pretty ballsy, no?

but according to my journal, this person who wound up disliking me so strongly was very receptive to this approach. right up until this one entry. it detailed an incident that i had completely forgotten about…maybe i blocked it out because my behavior was so awful. the worst part is that i think i thought it was okay at the time. it’s only with the gift of hindsight that i see how awful it was & how it would make any quasi-reasonable person lose all patience with me forever.

i know this would be so much better if i just explained what happened. but i can’t because it’s all just too much of an embarrassing mess. if i had three wishes from a genie, i would definitely use one to go back in time & redo that night. even if everything turned out exactly the same in the end, i would at least like the chance to undo that terrible behavior. i mean, i didn’t hurt anyone or anything. just my own sense of pride & human dignity.

we probably all had to make mistakes when we were younger in order to grow up & be the relatively decent, okay people we are today. but what the hell did i learn from making that particular mistake? literally nothing. i didn’t even remember that it happened. but the other person probably remembers & it probably informs their years-long “ciara is the worst” narrative. (i know that’s a thing, & that it lasted for years, because i have gotten report-backs on shit talk.) if there was any possible way to apologize for it now without it just compounding the awfulness, i would.

i also have had this narrative about the other person involved in the situation being just a terrible, terrible person. which, according to my journal, is justified in many ways. like, to a degree that i had actually forgotten. i couldn’t believe some of the insane details i had recorded for posterity. but i was also interesting to see my “this person sucks” narrative starting to develop in the journal. i think i came to the right conclusion in a lot of ways, but for the wrong reasons. i was focusing on dumb things they did that made me angry because that was easier than focusing on the important part: awful, dishonest things they did that were really hurtful & made me sad. i got invested in being mad because it made me feel less powerless & culpable than feeling sad did. this is a theme with me, huh? look at self-awareness blooming before your very eyes.

so. yeah. reading old journals. what a whirlwind, man. there was also some really funny stuff in there, like all the stories about another friend with whom i have since drifted apart. i wrote about this time we went to a show at the middle east, & afterward, the bouncers were being kind of aggressive about clearing out the crowd & getting everyone out of the bar. & she was really drunk & was all, “this is a fucking police state!” & i was like, “not the best example of a police state,” & she was all, “they’re george bush’s nazi henchmen!” she was a lot of work when she was drunk (which was always), but also pretty fun sometimes.

i also wrote about this time i went to visit a friend in montreal & he was like, “hey, i have to work today but give me a call & we can meet up after here’s my work number!” so i tried calling him in the afternoon & it was just, like, some guy’s house. the guy was like, “no, this is tony, i don’t know who you’re trying to reach.” i double-checked the number & tried it again but it was still just tony. so i did my own thing & that night when i got back to my friend’s house, he was all, “WTF you didn’t call me!” i was like, “i tried but it was just some guy’s house. unless you’re saying you work at some guy’s house?” & he was like, “yeah, i forgot to tell you, i’m a sexy maid.”

then he was like, “let’s try again tomorrow. i’ll draw you a map of how to get to my work & we can go to this coffeeshop when i get off.” & i said, “this better actually be a map of your work & not just a map of some guy’s house.”

a few days later, there was an event at my friend’s school (which is also where he worked, in the bookstore there) & we decided to go. when we got there, my friend was all, “man, i need to use the bathroom but i don’t know where it is.” i was like, “um, don’t you work here & also go to school here?” & he was like, “no, i go to sexy maid school at some guy’s house.” maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

4 thoughts on “reading old journals

    1. diaryland! thank god i think mine is deleted. i don’t know if i ever wrote anything too objectionable there but talk about your bad decisions! i made literally probably the worst mistake of my life during the diaryland days. & of course, learned nothing.

      my next long day with ramona isn’t until wednesday, i think. maybe tuesday.

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