Coaxing the Storyteller

Woman  journaling

I confess, I'm an indifferent and irregular journal writer. I've got loads of these booklets, all half-full with huge chunks of time between entries. I hate to throw them away because, well, just look at all the empty pages that are left to be filled! It feels almost sacrilegious, like throwing away books. In any case, I've come to accept that my lackadaisical style is here to stay. Probably.

But let me tell you about one nifty little journal I got a few Christmases ago that prods me along.

It's called The Story of My Life.

With fun and unusual prompts atop each page, this little blue number with its gold leaf imprint has me recording various milestones and everyday happenings at different periods of my life. At first I struggled as I poked my brain for long forgotten memories, and it didn't help that my anal self insisted I complete these pages in order. Once I realized I could have more fun just starting with any page I landed on, my memories began to flow and I could hardly keep up.

Surprisingly, the process has turned out to be a joy.

This type of journaling reminds me somewhat of my affinity with historical records. I can get lost quickly in old photos, documents, newspaper articles, even graveyards. They're veritable rabbit warrens. I've clocked hundreds of hours researching my family tree and indexing genealogy databases. And for some reason, these untold stories of long dead people resonate with me.

If only I could piece together their lives. Were they honorable folk? What were their dreams? How did they live? Whom did they love?

One day, I'll be among their ranks. And my story will most likely fade into oblivion, too.

But now I've got my little blue book to help preserve my longevity. That may be fanciful thinking, but one never knows.

Perhaps one day my life book will be rescued from its cobwebby hiding place under dusty floorboards. Maybe it'll find its way into a museum where visitors can catch a glimpse of how my sixth grade teacher, Sister Francine, would set her rosary beads a-jingling when shooting hoops. Or how a young girl's dreams of travel morphed into a stint in the military.

Or that this girl, sandwiched with her 11-member family in an old Chevy station wagon, made our annual crossing through the southwestern deserts in August to visit relatives. How there were so many of us we had to sleep on the floor and hoped we didn't hear the eerie footsteps of our departed g-grandfather, rumored to routinely wander through the house at night.

Perhaps, too, readers would laugh at my recollections of being terrorized by the angry resident rooster and subjected to the indignities of an outhouse baking under a blazing sun.

Be assured that a hot outhouse is not a happy experience.

The little moments flesh out a person. Gives them substance.

My blue book may not bring me back to life the same way a few chants from the Book of the Dead did for Imohtep, but I'm charmed by the idea that I'd've left even the smallest crumb in this wide open world, you know, a Regina version of Kilroy was here.

Yeah. Regina was here.


  1. Regina. This was a warm hearted thoughtful post. I absolutely love your childhood family travel stories, they are the best.
    Keep churning out those nuggets of gold.

    Cheers. Linda

    1. Thank you, Linda. I'm enjoying the process!


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