Oh, how I wanted a diary when I was a girl. You know the kind . . . a beautiful girly girl’s diary with a lock and key. And I was simply ecstatic the Christmas when I was ten years old and I received one. Mine had a navy blue cover with gold embossing and “1 Year Diary” gold-stamped into the cover. I simply loved it! I can still remember the sound that the gilt-edged pages made when I opened it for the first time . . . It felt like that crinkly sound was opening its pristine, glued-together pages to the secrets I was about to share with it.
Well, that’s the thing about secrets. No matter how much we try to preserve them or hide them from the prying eyes and inquiring minds that intersect our life, they are [sometimes] doomed to be discovered . . . paraded . . . maybe even disrespected. We feel violated when our secrets have been made public without our permission.
It takes a lot of risk and guts to commit a secret to the page . . . a lesson that I was quick to learn at this young age. My hopes of finding my true self via those gilt-edged pages were temporarily dashed when my big sister read my diary entries aloud — pages that detailed my first big crush [Dean W.], in front of said crush, who was my big brother’s best buddy.
I learned a lot that day about secrets and sisters and writing and locks and keys. I learned that just because something has a lock on it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be jimmied open. I learned that secrets can be made un-secret when they fall into the wrong hands. That, although it can be risky, it’s okay to be honest with my thoughts. That what someone else chooses to do doesn’t define who I am. That although I might feel a wee bit discouraged, I am going to keep writing.
It took some time to view things from my sister’s perspective. I learned that people do things that they don’t really intend to be hurtful in long-lasting ways. That what might seem funny at the time, never really was in the first place. And that sisters somehow stick together, even when they do things that aren’t very nice.
I am happy to have survived the awkwardness, and — now all the stronger — I have maintained my love and discipline of writing. And in the ways of true forgiveness, I have since pardoned my diary-reading, secret-disclosing sister. We are still the best of friends.
But you know how writing is. It liberates us, even when life sort of sucks. Writing asks us to pay attention to the details, even when it hurts. Little does this sister know that she is the muse for an extremely unattractive, glowering villainess who gets her payback comeuppance in one of my current short stories.
But this is the way of writing. You can change what is now by writing it into a different room or even onto a different planet. Does reality change? I don’t know how to answer this. I only know how to live it. And write it. And tell my sister that I love her dearly, because I do. And keep my journal hidden when she comes to visit.