Here’s a surprise: Since I was small enough to fit on my dad’s lap (but too big for him to want me to), I’ve kept a journal. First, it was a pretty pink book with rows as tall as telephone wires. Then it was a collection of creamy white pages bound to secrecy by a dainty silver lock. These days, it’s whichever scrap of paper is closest when my fingers start twitching.

As I write them, the words feel superfluous. I mean, if I’m feeling this right now, it just exists—forever—I think. Years later, though, the passages are lusher than granddad’s favorite Oak. Each word is a root, fat from a life spent reaching deep into the soil, back into time. When I rediscover the words, trip over them in search of something else, it’s like uncovering a superpower. I get to time-travel and sit with a young, sometimes sad, sometimes surprisingly poignant girl as she shares her deepest and darkest. Despite an unshakable tendency to replay the past as soon as it happens—when I re-read the entries, I find I don’t remember any of it.

I’m glad I don’t. Hearing the words as if for the first time, they remind me of something more important. This life, as I’m living it, isn’t a given. Sometimes, this moment’s smile had to grow from yesterday’s slippery tears.  And that’s OK.

After all, it’s a fact that the bigger the tree, the more water it needs to grow. Right?

Here, excerpted from a long-forgotten Google Drive file, is proof.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sitting at Vivace, my newly favorited cafe in Portland (not that I know many to compare it to…) and feeling pretty introspective. It helps that I’m sitting in a window seat, watching the hipsters meander up and down “Trendy-Third” Ave., the street I adoringly call home. I miss writing. I miss feeling creative, and well-dressed, and professional, and bustling with possibility. It feels strange to be sitting here at this cafe, because for the past month I haven’t felt much like a Portlander. I’m not sure if I ever really reached that point, but I feel acutely out of place now. I went home for Christmas on December 23, stayed for two weeks, then LDR came to visit until last week, so I’ve been kind of out of the Portland-loop for a month or so. I still have my MN plates and license, so I’m really not an Oregonian by any means, but I like to pretend.

With the number of out-of-state/towners I meet here, it seems perfectly legit to claim residency, since most people hail from somewhere else, anyway.

Yesterday, and the day before, I came to Viv (as LDR and I—annoyingly?—refer to it) to crank out application after grovel-y application. It’s pretty much my MO on weekends to stake out a table by a window at a cafe and spend hours begging for a job, better pay, a presumably happier life. Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really my job I hate so much, or just the monotony of American, middle-class life in general. When I’m at work, I feel dirty and gross and can’t stand the screaming children (the intensity of my emotion increases in direct correlation to how young the kids are) but refuse to admit my day goes by pretty quickly. Once the day is over, it is 6 p.m. and dark, with nothing to do but either coop myself up in the gym or go home and veg, but overall, my days aren’t filled with that brain-numbing static of staring at a computer screen in an all-too-quiet office with stuffy middle-agers who are just as sad about their lives as I am. It makes me wonder. Will I be happier in a different kind of job? (Look at me, saying “will” as if it’s a given I’ll get out of the daycare and into an office gig.) I’ll at least be making more money, which should afford me a few more things, furniture, for one, but any more happiness?

I’m not sure what got me on this topic, seeing as I’m actually pretty content today. LDR and I sorted out a lot of our gunk, he says things like “when we live together” and I feel really safe letting that make me all tingly. I was asked out both yesterday and the day before while sitting here at Viv, flinging out these resumes, and I had a great night at someone-who-I-think-will-be-a-good-friend’s house last night. Life is pretty good, when I look at it like that.

There are things—particularly money things—that make me want to cocoon myself in bed and never come out, but I don’t want to to talk about those today. Once I start, it consumes me, and that’s not the point of today. Not my weekends. Not my time to be clean, fun, happy—human.