I made a list of projects for Minnesota. Including a rather momentous one—to review and then burn most of my old journals. I thought long and hard about the hundreds of angst-filled pages that would go up in smoke, nevermore to be seen by human eye. Then I happily—and only a little regretfully—loaded the books in my bag and boarded the plane for Minnesota. Preparing to end my relationship with that young…then less-young…then older…then middle-age…woman who had pushed my inner child into some deep cranial crevice and taken over ‘me’ with worries and chaos and longings and…nonsense.

For anyone reading this and wondering if I won’t live to regret such an action—I can say pretty definitely ‘no.’ The journals begin June 9, 1975, forty-four years ago. I had been divorced two years; Scott was fifteen, Steven twelve; money, jobs and lovers were all problematic. And that’s what the first two volumes are all about; they’ve been examined before and again this week in a search of profound thoughts, meaningful actions, something…anything I could retain for posterity. Nothing. I was in my 30s, bright enough, pretty enough, ambitious enough I suppose—but not exactly practical or thoughtful or wise. I’ve ripped a few pages out of that fat journal that may contain a line or two for a future book or blog. That’s all. One’s a vision of my young son washing the car with the sparkle and splash of water spraying in the sun; one pays plaintive homage to a love affair ending….and…maybe there are only two pages worth saving?

The drama continued (with a gradual reduction of money problems and lovers) until 1984 when I took my first big trip abroad—Sue and me and the world. By then I had a fulfilling job and my kids were doing well, having survived the somewhat careless mothering they received for awhile. I had room for an inner ‘traveling’ child to emerge.

I brought scraps and pages and 1998 and 1999 journals with me to Minnesota as well on this ‘peruse and destroy’ mission—the goal being to focus on this century when back at my Albuquerque desk. Fortunately, after those early-days ramblings the books become far more mundane, drowning in daily details that I’m sure were healthy for me to record at the time but now, twenty years later, are quite possibly as boring as had I just written ‘all good men must come to the aid of their country’ a few thousand times.


So glad I wrote this post and took the photos included herein as I was feeling slightly hesitant about something as final as consigning years of words to absolute oblivion. Turns out, as I’d hoped, to be a positive move…Marie Kondo-ing a whole lot of blather might be the best way to describe the action now that it’s done. I can say thank you with heartfelt appreciation to those hardbound black and red journals that moved apartments, towns, even states, with me all of these years…you have been my therapists and best friends. Now, however, I’ve matured enough to go on without you…and, because Al Gore invented the internet, I can have blogs instead.

Join me now out at the Old Place for the burning of the books—a phrase I never thought to utter.

Love these fire photos…maybe it’s all about my inner pyromaniac?

3 Comments on “BURNING BOOKS

  1. I am not quite sure how I feel about this post and your burning of the books. Since I plan to still be recognized by important literary circles I would not do this. Oh wait, I don’t have any journals, never mind. I am enjoying your visit back home…tom

  2. Stunned. I don’t know what to say. Real-time connections of those whose lives who were part of that story seem to have been eliminated with deliberate pyro frenzy. What happened to my true partnership of the first 20 years when we went through so much together. What happened to those other close associates who helped to shape and influence your success. As a lifelong friend I can suggest that perhaps you have more to write about….or are maybe planning to.

  3. Marj, what a splendid and sad rite, performed in a field of rich grass. Grass is permanent, we’re not. I admire what you did. I still have my notebooks stashed away. There are no grand ideas in them, mostly humdrum routine and some flounder, flail, toss and turn, and I know I have to let slender tomes go. The ones I can’t throw away, not yet, are from my youth in high school and university. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven! And a good deal of hell too. I know have I have to shut up those barren leaves – soon – tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow . . . before kicking the final bucket.
    Continue writing, Marj!

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