Jason and I were watching Family Guy last night when a particular scene resonated with me. Brian was rereading texts he had sent his new love interest and Stewie proceeded to make fun of him saying that no one rereads sent texts. While I’m not one to regularly reread text messages (unless someone has taken a long time to respond and I’ve actually forgotten what my initial message to that person was) I do enjoy rereading my writings.
A few months ago I wrote a blog entry Saving Your History. It got me thinking about all the writings I had done throughout my lifetime that I never kept. From short stories in high school to 10+ page papers in college, part of me wishes I had kept documentation of everything I had ever written. While not all of it may have been of the highest caliber it all came from me and that in itself has meaning.
I do actually have every physical diary/journal I have ever used beginning with the Lisa Frank diary I received for my birthday in 3rd grade. Believe me when I say it is comical to read the woes of an elementary school girl. Those were the days of being best friends with someone one day and not the next, wanting my own bedroom and being nervous about holding hands with my first “boyfriend” at a roller skating party.
Over the years my journal entries transitioned from just day to day documentation of life. By high school they were most often about the high points (my first Homecoming dance) and low points (losing best friends due to graduation, a new girlfriend and unknown reasons). My journal was as much a memory documenter as it was an emotional keeper.
My freshman year of college, fall 2005, was the first I discovered the world of blogging thanks to Xanga. Granted I treated it more like an actual online diary than a blog with thematic posts, but it was still the first time my personal writing was actually shared with others. Facebook was still relatively new at that point and only available to people with a college email address. Myself and a lot of my friends still relied on MySpace for posting pics, but Xanga became our way of actually keeping up with one another’s lives. More than just a status update or handful of characters and hashtags, we actually wrote paragraphs about what was going on in our lives. We didn’t just “like” each other’s writings, we actually commented on it or picked up the phone and called each other to discuss.
I was devastated when Facebook became the new norm. It just wasn’t the same or equally as good to me. Slowly but surely everyone I knew abandoned their Xanga accounts. I was likely one of the last, if not the last, among my friends to give it up for good.
On a whim a few months ago I went to Xanga’s website to see if it was even possible to still access my old account. I had assumed those writings were gone forever and had cursed myself for not physically writing in my journal more during those college years. After logging in I discovered that users who hadn’t accessed Xanga within a certain number of years had their posts archived and could download them. It was like discovering old family photos nearly forgotten in a shoe box in the closet.
If my elementary school diaries are comical to read then my Xanga entires are certainly cringe worthy at times. The teenage angst and drama is so overtly apparent that it’s near embarrassing. The stress and sometimes hatred of college, loneliness of having friends in other states and struggles of a first real relationship are mixed with philosophical wondering and excitement of new life experiences.
I haven’t reread all the entries as there are a lot more than I expected. I used Xanga habitually to document nearly everything, big and small, it seems. Some of the entries hurt when I read them as I’m taken back to some really rough periods in life and reminded of some stupid decisions I made. Other entries make me literally laugh out loud as they retell memories I had long forgotten.
I am grateful to have recovered these writings as they are part of my story. I think that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy rereading past writings, good and bad. They reflect who I am and how I’ve grown both as a person and a writer throughout the years. While I may not still have all my more “academic writings” I am glad to have all my personal writings. They may never be read by anyone else, but they’ll always be there for me to reread.