This past week, I’ve been re-reading my journal from the early weeks of my trip around the world. My daughter Susan and I took this journey in 1974 – 1975.
I’m in the process of putting my four-volume, hand-written journal on the computer. Every day I read my writing, which is a lot clearer and neater than my script is today. Cursive they call it now. And when I type the words that I see in my thirty year old handwriting, and read what five year old Susan and I did in these foreign places, I’m 100% there.
I’m grabbed by the neck and ripped away from my desk. It’s not 2012. It’s 1974.
My fingers sail across the keyboard without any guidance. They automatically type what I read on the lined pages in the spiral notebook. Today, I’m in Goteborg, Sweden.
I’m not reading a journal about a time in the past that was pretty exciting most of the time. I’m actually present in those foreign cities, reliving the day. I’m walking in the rain, taking a wrong turn on the way to the Youth Hostel. I’m enjoying Susan’s company and her delight at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I’m also complaining about her behavior when she’s tired and grumpy. It’s all real, written the day it happened.
It’s strange to type for hours some days, minutes others, and absolutely know that Susan is five and I am thirty. I’m so utterly in the moment that June 2012 seems unbelievably far in the future. So much so, that it’s impossible to even imagine living during such a time yet to come.
Then I get a call from Susan, which I do most days. We communicate frequently by phone. But she’s not a little girl missing Kindergarten, during the year we traveled . She’s a grown woman, a mother with a little boy. She’s married, with her own house and her own two cats. She’s an accomplished musician, a violinist.
My sense of equilibrium is jostled. I have to shake my shoulders and take a deep breath. She’s no longer that little girl who loved pretty dresses and had lovely long, red hair even though that vision still lingers in my writing. She’s grown out of her little-girl voice and no longer creates songs that sound like a mixture of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, some of the languages we heard spoken and sung. But she still has her sparkling smile and beautiful eyes, her musical talent, her love for me. As I hear her voice, I realize she’s still my daughter, even though time has moved forward.
I’m tossed back and forth between the past and today, every time I open those pages. It’s unsettling – and it’s glorious and wonderful – to be able to repeat a life changing experience that occurred so long ago.