I like to hop in my time machine on occasion.
Inside a box in the bedroom closet, beneath an old baseball glove, newspaper clippings and a college diploma, are four spiral notebooks.
They are my journals.
For more than five years, from October 1981 through November 1986, everything I considered meaningful was written on those pages. It is a nod to my mother, who, as my high school English teacher, made her students keep the digests as part of their grade.
Perceptions can deceive. Memories can fade.
A journal, however, breaks through the gray with an absolution of ink to paper, moment to recorded history.
These snapshots are a mix of family, college and a young man trying find a niche.
I buried my grandmother in these pages, and we visited the World’s Fair in New Orleans. In 1982 on a vacation out West, my father wanted to take a photograph of a picturesque saloon in South Dakota. A plump Native American woman would have none of it.
“You’re not going to take my picture. You’re one of those highfalutin ones, aren’t you?”
She threatened to kill him.
I apparently packed a lot of life in my four years at Mizzou.
Road trips. All-nighters. Study breaks at The Shack. Struggles, then triumphs, with my first foreign language class. A Long Island Tea Party and two wicked hickeys.
Scared shitless as a cub reporter, I was ordered to interview curmudgeonly coach Norm Stewart, who broke the ice thusly:
“Have an orange. We’ve got plenty.”
We shared Vitamin C but little else.
The notebooks also chronicle part of the courtship of my future wife, whom I met on a Florida beach in May 1986. One of the last entries is from November of that year, a month before I proposed.
The page is loose from the spiral, yellowed at the corners.
“She already knows me like no one else. She wants to have children — two. She will make a terrific mother. I love Sherry so much. I will love her forever.”