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courtesy of Sandy Ross, Word's Worth, 519.871.word (9673)
2018 #02 | archivehome

Valentine Coming-of-Age(less)

Snowbound is a fine time for tidying, tossing, and February finds me curating old diaries. Most are minutiae, giddy, sweetly juvenile. In a few, though, the past nestles into present tense, as if the spent moment was sure it would span time within my heart – or in another's.

Reading his name gave me a sharp intake of breath and surprise. A 1979 notation said he and my beau-de-jour were coming to my house, and they'd meet a friend of mine. As I read, shock exhaled in a poignant "oh my God". The tagalong is the man my same friend ultimately married – her beloved husband lost suddenly last year. Scribbles once nonchalant carved new depth. Such meaning now in its precious past for her, I offered her its scanned page if, grief still fresh, she wanted it. She did. It binds us again, a timeline loop back to a happy naivety oblivious of yet-to-be.

A 1983 writing saw me rebound from a sad Feb. 14 with no cards in my mailbox, to "knew dear old Dad wouldn't let me [down], I now have a lovely ivy plant growing in the shape of a heart. I adore it." Five years (and five valentines) later, he was gone. The entry date echoes also the month's double importance for us. It was mid-Feb. I was adopted, and I marked each year in a special valentine to Mum and Dad with "so thankful I picked you". That blessing, like the ivy, grew heart-shaped.

The diaries aren't epic. I'll shred most. But the decade, our teens to 20-something – surely that's yet inside us, a touchstone to mark our way. It held our first yearning romances. Some were as long-playing as a vinyl-45 record (nearly three minutes), interchanged on life's turntable. Then, fickle matured into resilient, hopeful. Dating shaped us. Perspective, too, evolved in new circles. And in my first-week-at-college signoff, I'm glad that while optics shifted, optimism proved ageless, still true today:

"Boy, did I ever go to a conservative high school. I was telling Mum I've suddenly had a flash into adulthood, seen that people around me have serious, grown-up problems, like pregnancy, loving a married man, big issues. It's so challenging, and a bit scary, but I'm still really looking forward to it!"


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