The year I moved away from home, a girl named Mel gave me a very special journal bound in red suede for Christmas. It was beautiful, right down to the very paper and ribbon that it was packaged in. She had heard somehow, maybe I even had told her myself, that I used to be a writer and she often brought it up that she thought I should start writing again. By the time I met Mel, however, I had already given up that particular dream and had no intention of picking it up again. Realizing what it was in the package, I felt a lump in my throat at this unexpected thoughtfulness and encouragement expressed in such a tangible way.
The journal and I have been through a lot together, even if I wasn’t recording anything inside it’s pages. I’ve always felt that the journal was too "nice" to "ruin" with all the messy words I go through before I arrive at anything complete. Mel insisted that it didn’t matter, that the important thing was that I wrote something in it. I copied a few of my better poems onto its crisp, white pages and left it at that.
I found the journal that has lived with me in three different spaces over the last five or six years again today. Feeling a little guilty, as I usually do when I find it, I picked it up and flipped through it. I read the poems I had deemed worthy enough to place within its pages. With the exception of two, I realized they weren’t really that great anyway. Then I saw something about the journal that I had never noticed before. The red suede cover I had assumed to be binding is actually a slipcover for the blank journal inside. It can actually be exchanged with another at any point, nothing at all about the pretty cover would ever be ruined by my messy words. I felt very joyful knowing that I could now burden those pages with whatever filthy scrawl I wished and keep the beautiful exterior forever.
I have lost touch with Mel as our only real bond was though another person who we have both since said our goodbyes to, but I still think of her often. I have many hopes for Mel – that she now knows what a beautiful person she is inside and out, that she realizes her worth. I wish I could tell her I get it now. I understand, finally, that this was her point. I have put the journal near where I am most apt to use it. And I just might.