Diary of Summer, 1969 Journal; 80 pages; Complete. Philadelphia, PA and Camp Council, Valley Forge, Rochester, and Philadelphia again; Age: 17-18; Late adolescence; Accounts of loneliness, a desire to hold on.


First page of the journal Mss_0019_03.

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Bound notebook, blue leatherette cover; Handwritten; Paper and ink; Excellent condition.

Prose accounts; Amy, camp, changes; Amy, Barb, campers, others; Philadelphia, Camp Council.

Careful handwriting, signalling a decorous pace of composition, deliberate, private, but so legible its communicative force is also evident; the black ink is in keeping with the funereal and final tone of the text, with its pronouncements of endings, terminations--of friendships with Stephanie, Debbie, even Amy, all finished.

1964;   Nameless I, 1970;   Prose, 1968;   Journals from: Summer, 1968;   Journal of Characters, 1968   Inventory, 1970;   Amy, 1984.  
Beginning in the summer of 1969, through the end of the summer, 1970, when I left for California, I kept journals assiduously. The first journal, this one, contains entries for Summer 1969, the second for the Fall 1969, the first semester I was at the University of Rochester, the third goes from Winter 1970 through July 1970, and the final journal covers summer and fall, as I moved from Philadelphia to California. A thin, independent, notebook, most of its pages removed, contained a detailed inventory of all of the objects in my bedroom in my family house. The room had been left completely unchanged in my first year away, and the memorabilia of the Amy life filled every bit of its small space. Photographs of George Harrison, of models from magazines who resembled our other characters, keepsakes, dried flowers, small objects of every sort all imbued with intense mnemonic value, all found their way into the descriptive catalogue. This, too, was an act of writing as preservation.

This was the only time in my life when I kept journals, and the writing served as a very direct mode of preservation. The experience of loss that had overwhelmed me with Amy’s departure, and the struggles that ensued as we tried to keep our connection, give it up, and negotiate its importance and its absence simultaneously, had confirmed my early childhood melancholic tendencies. I felt life was lived as loss, and that writing experience into form was one of the only ways to preserve its fleeting epehmeralities. The attempt was always futile, always doomed in advance, for the allocation of time to preservation was time not lived, and vice versa, in the perversely inverse mathematics of experience and record.

The entries in these journal are carefully written, the pace of thought and of handwriting equally measured. I took pleasure in the very act of making letters, inscribing traces, making records as a preservative activity. The entries are frequent and consistent. Five of them were filled, in separate notebooks, mostly demarcated by season and circumstances. This structural allocation of writing was and remains a characteristic feature, a conformance to the principles of format as a guide to composition. My imminent departure for the West Coast would, I hoped, provide a definitive break from the life I had lived within the relationship with Amy, and, to a lesser degree, the family. The writing would shift gears when I did, though I was not done with Amy.

This is the first of five journals grouped here. The others are similar in tone, detailed and mournful, filled with a record of the loss, of efforts to connect to others, of the difficulties of social life in the period after our intense connection and without adequate socialization into the patterns of actual teen life. I am without the skills to engage with others, am painfully shy, self-conscious, and devastated.

"I am trying to regain my dependence on writing and my independence from people." This line, on the first page of this journal, says so much. I am in a state of mourning, really, even though I announce it as a condition of liberation. I have been without Amy for almost a year, and I see my future ahead as a life without her. Now it is my turn to be a camp counselor for the summer, a job for which I am ill-suited in all ways. I write that "I don't like children, I don't like people [...] I want to read, to write, to sew, and draw and be alone." I will write nearly every day in this book, recording the vicissitudes of emotional life, the homesickness, sadness, and the endlessness of the camp routine. By the end of the summer, I will be home briefly before going to Rochester and then, on September 14th, I write the last entry in this notebook on the evening before going to college, on the edge of a change that I believe is "so subtle and at the same time so vast." I write all the way to the very last line of the notebook. "This is the end. The end of my book for the summer. I'm seventeen now and leaving for school tomorrow." I note that I have developed the habit of writing every day during the summer, and I know that has included writing as my characters as well as writing in the journal. I have marked off the days in a hand-written calendar on the title page of the notebook. In the morning my father will drive me to the University of Rochester and I will begin a new notebook.

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