My diary is my friend

Diary shelf

My diary shelf

My diary is my best friend.
Yes, I do have real, people friends too. And I’m married, and I love my husband. But there are things you can’t tell anyone, and I tell them to my diary. (Since I write in it mainly when I am traveling or unhappy, he complains that it can’t be fair to him. So from time to time I even let him have a page.)
I have been keeping a diary since I was eight. My first entries talk about a trip my uncle and his brother took me on across Louisiana, in the days before the interstate. I tasted lemon meringue pie for the first time in a place called Krotz Springs, took a ferry across the Mississippi, saw Mike the Tiger in his cage at LSU (it’s much bigger now), and met a girl who had six fingers. She seemed especially proud of it. I remember everything about that trip, right down to the wonderful Burma Shave signs! Everything was new to me. I probably would have forgotten it all by now, if I hadn’t written it down in a little brown spiral notebook. I reread that notebook so many times that even though I lost it years later, in New York City, I didn’t even lose the memories. Would I still remember that trip so vividly now without it? I don’t know.

Red Big Chief notebook

My first writing was all done in a Big Chief notebook that we were given at school. It still makes me feel all shivery when I see it because I was so excited about learning to read and write.

Over the years I’ve gone through many different kinds of diaries. When I studied Chinese in college, I even kept a separate diary in Chinese for several years. That was fun! And a good way of making sure no one else would ever read it, possibly including Chinese people as my Chinese was so bad. For a long time I also used my diary as a commonplace book, copying out poems and quotations, and even typing out things from the newspaper or books and sticking them into the pages. Finally I copied so many things that I had to get a separate commonplace book. I’ve had spiral notebooks and hardcover bound ones with acid-free pages, and plastic ones and leather ones and artists’ diaries with thick paper meant for someone who draws much better than I do. Now I have settled on diaries from La Ricerca in Venice. Aren’t they beautiful? I buy several every few years. The pattern is from the mosaic floor of San Marco Cathedral. (By the way, many of the marbles in the cathedral are from ancient Roman quarries that are now mined out. There is no more marble like that in the world.) It’s such a satisfaction writing in my handsome diary that I feel a heavy responsibility not to disgrace its pages. Maybe I should go back to the cheap spiral notebooks.

La Ricerca is one of the last authentic Venice bookbinders

Every woman who keeps a diary probably knows the quotation “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” (Gwendolen in The Important of Being Earnest) My own favorite is “You see, it is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication. ” (Cecily in the same play)

Mine isn’t, though! It’s just my best friend, always ready to listen.

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