Fifteen years ago, sometime around the Y2K freak-out mode, I got a bright pink diary from Limited Too.
If you don’t know what Limited Too is, you weren’t a girl born in the late eighties or early nineties (or didn’t have a daughter or sister who was). It was recently renamed Justice. But back when it was Limited Too, it was the shop at the mall for hip preteens.
At least, my twelve-year-old self thought so. On the Fashion page, I wrote “Limited Too, Claires” down for hot shops and for not shops? “GAP, Acromobie and Fitch.” (I was a horrendous speller.)
On the page that is “all about me…” my address is in Littleton, Colorado, I really want to live in Hawaii or Calif, my email is from chickmail.com, and Robin Williams puts a smile on my face. My weakness is “guys”, but I didn’t write down any strengths. I was three inches shorter than I am now (but I was still taller than Mom) and fifteen pounds lighter.
I inserted only two pictures of myself in this diary, though they encouraged you to put a picture of your room, pictures of your friends, pictures of your crushes. I didn’t have time for that. Two, Diary, you get two. I put in a picture of me at JFK’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery holding my cousin Laura. Do I look eleven to you in this picture? I feel like I’m a giant.
The first ten pages or so of this diary are literally all about me and the times I live in. Designers of diaries know you’re going to be nostalgic later and read and laugh about your favorite songs or cringe when you write about your dream dates. They are simultaneously pandering to the self-obsessed kids who get these diaries and amusing our future selves.
The crowning glory of this diary, though, is where you can insert a secret letter to yourself to be opened on a future date. The instructions:
Write a letter to the person you know best – yourself – explaining who you want to be. List all of your dreams, your hopes, and your wishes for yourself. Keep it closed for a long time… Open it when you’re ready and see if your wishes came true!
I wrote DO NOT OPEN UNTIL January 5th 2015. AND I PERSEVERED, YOU GUYS. In fact, I didn’t open it until January 21st 2015, so there!
I opened the letter and for some reason, it’s dated January 5th, 2006. Like I said, “The year I turn eighteen, I’ll read it…” Then I tucked it into the envelope and thought, “No. That’s too close. Shoot for the stars, Emily. You can wait fifteen years!”
The masterpiece is here:
Here’s the translation with the glorious typos, misspelled words, randomly capitalized letters, and sentences that make no sense.
I want to be an Acctress. I want to be a Singer. I want to be a Woman of God. I want to be a photographer. I want to make the best of Life. I want to be the best Ice Skater of all time. I want to be known for me, for who I am, for all I’ll be. If I die before I can read this. May I Cherish in Heaven forever. I want to go to College. I want to be myself in every I can.
The first thing I did after I read this was laugh. Then I felt an immense sense of relief, thinking, “Oh, I was always like this. Even when I was twelve, I couldn’t make up my mind.”
I didn’t even notice that last sentence was missing “way” until I was writing this out. I guess I’m still in tune with my preteen self, filtering for her mistakes and filling in the gaps.
After I’ve recapped my life, the rest of the diary is spread out with daily entries on one page and a lined page on the other. Throughout the pages, I use glittery pens that came with the diary and that I most likely lost a few weeks later.
Everything is pink.
I write a few sentences almost every day for the first six weeks.
December 29. I wonder if my ears will get infected. I hope not! [note from 2015: they did.]
January 1. Happy New Years! Zena Girl of the 21st Century is awesome!
January 6. I saw Mark today! I forgot how cute he was!
January 26. Amanda got her period! Only, she didn’t tell me. Mom told me! Whassup w/ that?
January 27. We played w/ Girl Scouts-Brownies. I hate my booth! I can’t believe I gave the craft booth up for it!
February 5. Acting Class: We are doing a Girls against boys play. Girls are so much better!
February 8. Dad babysat today.
He was okay.
I’d like to shake the hand of the genius who put this thing together. I only wish I’d actually followed through with it and written past February 9th, when I wrote the following entry in horrific handwriting.
Moving? I kinda wanna go and kinda not. I might see Ashley and Erin from camp! But I’ll leave Amanda and Mark! And Girl Scouts! The Church is huge! We’ll have two cars and I’ll get payed for babysitting. But will, I will be moving. From this house, 3 hours away from Littleton! Do I have to move AGAN?? This is Crazy! Really Crazy!
And that’s it. It’s like when I moved, I completely forgot about this little gem. I probably got a new diary and filled out half of it. Or I got an online journal because around this time was the dawn of my life on the Internet.
When I turned the page, looking for more entries, and there were none, I honestly felt more relief. Even when I was twelve, I couldn’t finish something.
So, have things changed? I can spell words now, and I know when not to capitalize things. I don’t want to be an actress or a singer or the best ice skater of all time anymore. I’m thinking teacher or editor or publisher or author or graphic designer or web designer.
I kinda wanna go and kinda not. I want to make the best of life and I want to be myself in every way I can.