Take Me Back (One Page At A Time)
Diary Stack from 2009–2022.
There is a lot of humour in digging up old things. Humour and heartbreak, the intertwined emotions.
I recently moved back to Singapore and curved instinctively into the shape of my old spaces: my childhood bedroom and the fake-plant-fringed tables of NLB’s Hanis, mostly. The challenge of returning after some years away is in making these familiar spaces new–reflective of the change in times and myself. Thus, the ambitious project of reorganising my room began.
While all kinds of sorting occurred, I want to talk about my act of finally sorting through all the words I had written to myself in the form of personal diaries over the course of 13 years. A stack of notebooks lay in my drawer, the ever-collecting dust challenging my inattention. OK, I thought, since I had a week till the start of my Editorial Internship at Ethos, the time to reckon with this was NOW.
My diaries start in 2009, when I was 10. The main themes: friends, school, movies and emotions too big for such a tiny body. While as a novice I was undiscriminating about which notebook I would make the repository of my secret heart, in 2014 I seem to have decided that one particular Muji notebook had the perfect shape, size, colour and binding for this purpose–and I never looked back. The perk of having bought the same item over a period of 8 years is that I unwittingly tracked the inflation rate, and look!
This is why my generation cannot afford to buy a house.
The Rising Cost of Emotional Processing
On top of being soothed by cataloguing my diaries, I also found some real gems in there which drew cringe and compassion in equal measure. Highlights include: “The sad thing is I left some homework in school! *panics, screams*” / “I got a new haircut and most people say it’s weird but honestly I think it’s OKAY!” / “My friends and I laughed tons while having dinner—HAHAHHA—but when they went home I got scolding.” Perspective, am I right?
I am still undecided about the fate of these diaries. Should I authorise their release 100 years after my death, for the bo liao indie historian? Or cathartically singe them in a bonfire/ BBQ? I don’t know, reader, you tell me. Anyway, here’s the real message I hope to pass on to you: if after reading this, you discover old pictures of yourself with a 2000s' side fringe, or mementos from an ex-lover or ex-friend, be kind to the person you were, because they were just trying to figure it all out, you know? And maybe they helped the present you along this process more than—both of—you will ever know.
With loving attunement,
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