I Wish There Wasn’t Evidence

Oh, the diaries project is getting bad. For those of you new to this party, this is a series in which I go through my childhood diaries. Verbatim. With you.

I wish there was more evidence of me as a child who read a lot, loved school (except 8th grade geometry), had babysitting and painting jobs, loved her family, went to church even when the rest of her family didn’t, and went on as many young people’s retreats/conferences and service weekends as she could. Those were all true. Yet I get this:

grade 8 graduation


Thurs., Feb. 5, 1981, age 13  Teen Club tonight was a learning experience to say the least. At first, I thought my only friend was K. But then I was hiding with D. and he asked me if I hated his guts. I said no, not necessarily. Then I got the surprise of my life, he said he liked me. I wasn’t expecting that. And on the way home I found out that J. doesn’t hate me. Or he did a good job of covering it up, but I think he likes me (normally of course). Bye-bye.


At least that took place at church. There was spiritual content to the club meetings, I swear. But it was clearly eclipsed in importance by the social angle. I’ll do well to remember this when my kids’ reports on their youth group evenings include nothing about God or Jesus.

According to the evidence, during those early teen years, I mainly wrote diary entries when I had something of a romantic nature to report. The next entry after the above was July 31, 1982, then September 15, 1983, and then August 24, 1984. Yup, I really got around. Even less when you consider that only one of those was about anything actually happening.

Let’s rip the band aid off and not delay another second.

7/31/82, age 14  Haven’t seen ya in over a year or so. Tell you what’s new. I’m going into gr. 10, I don’t like anyone in particular, I’m a Gen. Hosp. and Y&R nut. I’m fat. I’m not really that fat but I’ve graduated to a size 30 jean and weigh a touch over 130. So, I promised myself that in August I would do swim training, and, I suppose I will. I really have to lose weight/fat and get rid of my zits. I have 6 weeks until school and I’m doing to do it!! It’s 11 p.m., R’s at camp and I’m going to dreamland good-bye.

9/15/83, age 15  What a frustrating weekend. JW is a really nice guy. We went for 2 long walks in the total dark, arm in arm. That’s all he did. I think he liked me because we were around each other a lot but we could never really talk. He was too serious anyway. And the ass didn’t even acknowledge my presence that Sunday. (This was at the Kwasind weekend.) Boy was I pissed off. Oh well. This was an almost fling. He never tried anything beyond arm in arm.

16th birthday


8/26/84, age 16  I had a fling today in Michigan! J and I went to the Hope College dance and on the way we met G and another guy. We went to G’s house (he looks GREAT in a towel). Not until Highway to ____ song did we dance and boy did we dance. To make a long story short we ended up making out all over the place: room off the dance floor, dance floor, car…. He gives the impression of tenderness and reverence by touching my hair, face, arms and back softly.


I can’t even tell you how much I hated typing all that. I hate the evidence of how I talked to myself about how “fat” I was, of how much mental energy I wasted, making elaborate plans to solve that non-problem. I did have spectacularly bad skin. Any attempts to address it only made me feel worse about myself, so I alternated between ignoring it and loathing myself for it. Which I suppose is how I’m feeling about those long ago feelings. Come to think of it, I did lose weight before school that year — I got really, really sick, like 104 degree fever sick.

Something more properly momentous happened at that 1983 weekend: it was the first time I took Communion. It was a mixed-denomination retreat for teenagers, and when Sunday came they served Communion. I took it even though I hadn’t done Profession of Faith yet. The blurb in the program invited everyone who believed in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour (it being Canada, we had the “u” in savior) to participate. So I did. I was such a rebel. Actually, it did feel rebellious. That weekend, my heart pounded with nerves both because I was taking Communion when I “shouldn’t have” and because a boy I kind of liked didn’t try to kiss me. Those 2 walks in the dark out in the country, sitting on a dock overlooking an inland lake, no light pollution, falling stars, etc. were worth it, even if they didn’t result in what I wanted.

The 1984 entry sounds like more than it was. J and I went to this guy’s house, but he was our age, so it was his parents’ house. It was show-offy of him to come out in a towel, though, before returning to his room to get dressed. I’m sure he had some reasonable explanation, like that he’d just gotten back from work. And someone tell me why I could make out with a boy I’d just met, yet wouldn’t spell the word “Hell” in my private diary entry? Oh the contradictions.

My family and I listen to a lot of Bill Cosby when we drive anywhere that takes longer than a half-hour. His “75$ Car” bit is mostly about a junker he drove, but he starts out by detailing the relationship with the girl he drove the junker to go see. It has a few lines about kissing that are filled with nostalgia for the days of endless kissing (my favorite line is “kissin’ up on the whatnot shelf”). The days when it was just about kissing and not anything further. At 16, for me, that was all it was about. That and G. did what I call the Sound of Music kiss, which was worth a diary entry.

When Captain von Trapp kissed Maria for the first time out in the gazebo, putting his hands tenderly and reverently on her face, it was imprinted on me as the ideal romantic kiss. I remain impressed that a 16- or 17-year-old boy had that in his repertoire. It’d be almost 10 years before a boy did that again — and I married him.

So, people, throw that one in now and then. It’s a lovely kiss. Maybe enough to inspire a diary entry even now.


Diaries: Romance Edition

I will have a 10-year-old daughter for only one more day, so, in her honor, I’m going to utterly embarrass myself and reveal my romantic obsession at her age: D., the older brother of my friend and classmate E. Although we were two grades apart, we went to a tiny (and I do mean tiny) alternative Christian school, so we were in the same classroom. (Note that while I identify everyone else by initial, I use my cousin Esther’s full name because she is no longer with us to object to my using her name.)

He was the perfection of boyhood and I fell in love immediately upon seeing him. I liked him for years. Years. Here we are sledding (I was in heaven but also freaked out enough to maintain a reasonable distance between us):









Fri. 2/3/78 D. gave me 40 cents to spend. Now everybody’s teasing us. I’m glad. I’m expecting a call any second.

Mon. 2/6/78 Today all the grade 5’s had a fight. It’s sort of O.K. It all started when D. broke Esther’s radio. This is what a note said, “If you don’t get E. and I this and that you have to kiss Natalie.” Just before D. got on the subway he said he’d phone me. Esther just phoned me. [I later added: He didn’t.]

Tues. 2/7/78 Today Esther had this silly plan for me to spy on her and D. She makes me so jealous because every day she has something to say about D. I wouldn’t be surprised if D. hated me. If he does hate me I’ll just love him the same, and more. Some day all my love life is going to be ruined because of her. Today my stupid parents wouldn’t let us see the guests. All we had for supper was a tiny bowl of soup.

Fri. 2/10/78 Today was so exciting. D. walked me home.

Oh, the drama. The insecurity. The blowing tiny gestures all out of proportion. All my love life ruined….

I remember the day when D. was going to have to kiss me. This was a terrifying possibility, so I shoved aside the three-seater couch in our lounge and barricaded myself behind it so nobody could get near me. Although perhaps being kissed in such a publicly pressured way would have saved me from years of pining. My 3rd grade boyfriend kissed me on the landing of the exterior steps while everyone was running up to our classroom after lunch and it was the end of a beautiful thing.

We’d been together for what felt like ages, but was probably less than a month, holding sweaty little hands during lunch and class movies and arranging to stand next to each other when the class walked in the hallways so we could hold hands. I ignored the teasing and thought we were perfectly happy, but his buddies pressured him into the smooch. Embarrassing me so in front of the whole class was enough to tell me he wasn’t for me. That was it. The red-haired boy who pulled my chair out for me every day when I came to class stepped in to provide balm for my wounded pride. Although that only lasted until my birthday pool party, when he dunked me nine times, making me gasp and gulp water those last few times. That was it for him.

With D., I was not so fickle. I liked him from age 9 until my early teen years. It never developed into anything more real than vague compliments and flirting, either, which means I have a sweet memory of that crush. There’s very little reality to intrude.

In a non-romance moment, I sounded then just as silly as my kids do now when they get incensed at parental action. It’s kind of cute.

Anyone want to share embarrassing personal stories so I don’t feel alone?