Friday, July 1, 2011

The Journal

I sat in the office tying my shoes as Laura fiendishly pulled book after book off the shelves, looking for something.  God knows what.  Winnie the Pooh was tossed to the left, skidding to a stop against a pile of laundry.  Jane Eyre went off to the right, splayed open on the floor.  And then Laura grabbed for the journal.  A hideous blue denim, spiral-bound journal, bedazzled beyond the point of tacky.  The words "Our Journal are written with a childish hand in puffy paint across the front cover.  Inside, the lined papers are wrinkled with time, tape, spilled beers, and love.  Lots of love.

I met Nate in March 2002 when I was a sophomore in college, struggling at the height of depression and an eating disorder to feel normal.  Nate was twenty-three, a year and a half out of college, struggling to make ends meet with a job in sales.  When we met, I was already signed up for a four-week trip to Italy over the summer.  I had been looking forward to it for months.  Looking forward to the food that I was planning to allow myself to eat without shame or guilt.  Looking forward to the relaxed schedule of classes, painting in the Italian summer sun.  Nate was less than happy about my four-week escape.  We were so new to each other - he wanted to keep me to himself all summer.  But off to Italy I went, leaving Nate behind to mope.  I loved him, but I also couldn't wait for my adventure. 

I called Nate from my Italian dorm as soon as I was able to figure out a pay phone:
Hi Hunny, I miss you, are you doing ok?  I know you were upset about this trip, but I'm having a fabulous time already!
I miss you so much, baby, but it's ok!  I figured out a way to make the four weeks pass in a flash!  But it's a surprise.  I'll show you when you get home.

Four weeks later, Nate met me at the airport.  He rolled my bags out to the car, and presented me with the journal.  The horribly tacky journal, already worn and loved.  Already half-filled with the most intimate of words.  A journal with a letter written to me each day I had been away.  A memoir of letters, written with love in the childish handwriting of my future husband.