I was going through my old school things in my parent’s garage in an effort to clear out some space for them and found my old journals. They were the scribblings of a young girl, still optimistic, still sentimental, un-jaded by life and disappointment. I read some of the entries and thought, “silly goose”. I struggled to remember who and what I was writing about. Some of the names were totally unfamiliar. I concentrated, trying to recall the faces that went with those names that I wrote so passionately about. They must have been important to me at the time, but now, they exist only as names in a tattered notebook.
As I flipped through the entries, something caught my attention. It was a list that could have doubled as a love letter. There was no name attached to it, but it catalogued everything I loved about that person, our moments together, things about their character, how they made me feel and for a moment, I was reminded of something Edith Wharton wrote of one of her characters. “…such depths of feeling could coexist with such absence of imagination.”
Rather than feeling nostalgic about my work, I found myself cringing. I tried to recall some of those listed incidents and could find no trace of them in my memory. Logic and pure chronology dictated that it was one of my ex-boyfriends (nameless for this post) and I was ashamed of the fact that I had not credited them for anything more meaningful than their eye colour or some token act outside an ice cream parlour. It was, quite simply, the writings of a child.
I wonder now, as I write this, if I would do much better now and think that a list is no fit way to describe anyone. They are notes on character, but in no way do the individual justice. So, my challenge today is to write a narrative about someone I care about, but for the writing to reflect more than just a list of adjectives. Writing should bring out the measure of their character without having to spell it out in a list. So, pick a scene and give the person you choose the credit they deserve by letting their actions and words speak for them.