I’m sitting in my home office pouring over dozens of old journals filled with everything that once mattered to me: rambling descriptions of my days, exhaustive detail of my interactions with crushes (SO. MANY. CRUSHES.), short stories about things well beyond my understanding, the beginnings of bizarre novels, Backstreet Boys fan fiction, and of course, a crap ton of really bad poems. Some of them are unfinished — chapters I couldn’t bear to continue — and others are filled up to the brim; their front and back covers scrawled with memories and inside jokes that have long lost their meaning.
I initially pulled all of these journals out because I was looking for an entry I’d written about visiting New York on a field trip back in April 2000. I wanted to write about about how the city was everything that I didn’t know I was searching for, and how I found myself there, and why I eventually left. I wanted to say that moving to New York was the only thing I was ever sure of in my life. But digging through my memories and reading my decades-old writings led me to discover that those words simply aren’t true.
Leafing through some stories I wrote when I was 13, I found an epilogue (which I appropriately titled “What ever happened to?” by the way. 13-year-old me was so clever!). Under my name, it read “Chelsea took up a career as a writer, became a successful author, and lived happily ever after with her two best friends, their husbands, and the love of her life.”
First, I just want to say, HOW FITTING that I wanted to live with my two best friends and their husbands back then because I totally still do! I guess I’ve always been Janice Ian-level obsessed with my best friends to the point where people tend to question my sexuality, and I’m totally cool with that. I’m all about that group compound life, y’all. Some things never change, I guess…
Anyway, what really stuck out to me, and what I can’t stop turning over in my mind now, is that in my heart of hearts, I have always wanted to be a writer. After all, what could be a more obvious indication of longing than the aspirational words of one’s epilogue? It’s the one space where happily-ever-after exists, and there’s no room for condition or clarification; but-fors or bumps in the road. It’s simple. Unlike actual life, an epilogue makes sense.
There was always something else out there for me, besides New York and finding love, pulling me along, ever since I was a lonely pre-teen sitting up in my room in Connecticut. There was always one journal or another, my salvation. My words, written down; my history. Some are more beautiful than others, but even the ugly ones are inextricably tied with me and everything I am.
These days, I don’t know where I’m going, and thinking back on it all, I guess I never have. I can’t help but notice that my epilogue never mentioned where I would live, whether I ever bothered to marry the love of my life or if I’d start a family of my own. I watch those around me map out their lives with certainty, always feeling a nagging sensation of cluelessness about my own future.
I still don’t know where I’ll end up, or how I’ll get there, or what it all means. I just know that if I had to write my epilogue here and now, I’m not sure I’d change one word: “Chelsea took up a career as a writer, became a successful author, and lived happily ever after with her two best friends, their husbands, and the love of her life.”
A girl can dream, can’t she?