I was engaged in 1996. I had never owned a computer. I was a young college student in a largely rural state where information still came primarily in the form of books. With covers. And dead trees dotted in ink. Pictures were exposed film. It was a far different time than exists now, and I find continual awe in the tools and access available today.
My engagement journal was intended to be the place I wrote all the life and love packed into every day. I read it recently and my reaction: “Aww! I thought I’d arrived at love when I was taking that essential but early step. How adorable!”
Today is October 7, 1996. Jared Salisbury has been my beau now for 11 months. We look together toward that bright and beautiful day. The day we take one another as helpmate. From that day forth we will forever be one. Through all the years of unspeakable joy, tough disappointments, and heart-wrenching losses, we will remain….This journal serves as an outlet for me each day and a reminder for every day to come. I do not know whose eyes will glide over these words, but I want you to know that this journal is more for you than for me….This journal is so that you may know that the real, forever-after love still exists.
My second thought? Wow. I would have written that so differently from today’s memories and perspectives. Those words are among the many that grace the front inside cover of my journal one month and one day before my engagement, though I did not know it at the time.
Reading those pages from engagement through my first morning as a wife – it unwinds things. It transports me to a time before babies, before law school, before the last twenty years. My feelings were real. My audacious optimism about mariage was also real. And, while the journal may not be the epic love story my introduction predicted, it captures a slice of time that I am grateful to savor.
Every day of engagement was not paradise. Stress and unforeseen circumstances made the pages. Excitement, frustration, joy, disappointment, difficulty, desire – they all made the pages. And that is real.
Time shines memories and causes you to feel them differently from a distance. The shine is the romantic, the heightened, the revisionist nature of human memory. It is both merciful (or not) edit and unflinching rewrite.
I am glad to have the journal. The mundane, ordinary moments ground my past. The huge moments provide scale.
Because none of it was perfect. I have neither loved nor been loved perfectly.
No. I have loved messily. I have been loved in ways I never could have contemplated in that journal.
Nothing occurs perfectly but is made perfect through becoming meaningful.
And that – that is why I do what I do. To help the small and the huge meaningful moments be preserved. The feeling. The texture. Every sense that imprinted to the stuff that matters.
To craft the impression of your senses, thoughts, and actions into truly indelible words.