"What is more dull than a discreet diary? One may as well have a discreet soul." - Chips Channon
I used to keep a paper diary. I've got three hefty books, every day filled in without fail. This was, of course, before the days of blogging (well, I'm pretty sure LJ was around but I didn't have one, it was in its fledgling days). From 1999 to 2001, I wrote almost religiously in black ink, usually accompanying the day's entries with a quote someone said during the day, a statistic or fact, and in later entries, a moral learnt. I had a massive downward spiral into depression in 2001, but the diary still makes for interesting reading, including an early history of my romantic failures. There's even a lot of stuff in here about Louise that I'd forgotten.
But a look back through the diaries, before the whimsy of 2000 and the "veil of tears" entries of 2001, reveals my 14-year-old self in all his glory. Including some subtle references to the crushes I had at the time - mostly this girl, but also another one, who I fancied for a couple of months - not a long time, but it was a very passionate crush. Being 14, of course, I wasn't exactly hoping to have sex with her, but I did kind of hope something happened at Woodcraft camp. Something did happen at Woodcraft camp - she hooked up with a friend of mine on 2/8/99, according to my journal. 7/8/99 was an important date for me, essentially, because that would be the end of the camp, and I had the entry all planned out.
What I'd do was this. I'd be getting off the minibus, catch the girl's eye, and hold her gaze for a few seconds, smile, and then move on. And for those few seconds, we would have Been A Couple, and this would be the definining moment in my life, because she would have been my first girlfriend for a few seconds, and that would be a lifelong memory for me. I even had the middle of the entry in my head; it would read:
And for a few moments... for a few magical moments...
...we were boyfriend and girlfriend.
Clearly I was an ILB back then, as well.
I'd planned it for months and, evidently, I never got to write that. But for what it's worth, I championed the relationship between my two friends, because if I wasn't going to get with her, I may as well have made sure that she was happy with who she had. So a lot of entries around August and September '99 made references to those two and how happy I was for them. I genuinely was, as well. Just a bit gutted.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
The interesting thing about my diary, however, was that it was essentially for public consumption. I wasn't going to try and get it published - that's an idiotic idea, why did I ever write that? - but I'd read bits out to my friends and family, even my little sister, and I'd pass it around the minibus on trips so people could have something to read. I didn't make it explicit about my crush(es) throughout those three years, in case it leaked, and the only one I was really totally open about was the crush that I was, well, open about. That didn't end well either.
But at least I kept writing the diary. For three years. Then I started an audio diary akin to The Benn Tapes, which didn't last past April. But the dictaphone I got still works. And of course I had an LJ by then (I cross-posted a lot from my LJ to the final stages of my paper diary, actually), so it wasn't something I gave up. Obviously.
I never got those few magical moments. But that's okay. Because, to be honest, I got some better ones. I just had to wait.