Five Years ago I was in a bit of A Place. I was a fair temporal distance from a big break up, a shorter distance from an emotional turmoil and break up of my own stupid making, but in a place of change and healing. I was thinking about writing again, seriously. I was living in a friend’s house, and practising proper self care for possibly the first time ever, and I was looking forward to the future.
It was a weird place to be. But the perfect place to start a big weird project like a five year journal. The one I chose was Q&A a day by Potter Fic. I can’t recall how I found it, although I feel like I saw someone else doing one, or maybe I was trawling notebook tags in tumblr or journals in pinterest. I don’t know, there weren’t that many options but this is the beastie I chose, it’s cute af, it has gold on the edges of the pages and the questions don’t suck.
I guess I didn’t worry too much about taking pictures of it. What was the point of a lot of pictures of blank pages? But at the start of 2016 I put in a little Time in a Bottle quote, no doubt inspired by X-Men: Days of Future Past.
I battled with my desire to customise the cover of the book to me and keep it pristine. I gave in to customising, and I’m not sorry I did. I added stickers from the official Pokemon Center, I made little rainbows, fixed the binding with fancy Japanese washi tape, and on the night we came home after watching Captain America: Civil War I did a little star and a ‘soldat’ for Bucky. Yes, I identify too much with superheroes, what of it?
This journal has been my companion. It’s gone overseas with me, it’s gone on road trips (including the one where I moved from Wellington to Auckland). It’s gone from the excited, first tentative steps in a new relationship to happily married with that girl. It’s been the last thing I do before settling into sleep a lot of the night.
I was gentle with myself about it though. Somedays I couldn’t be bothered, or I forgot, or I was sick, etc. And it was okay to not journal that day. But I always retro-filled when I was up to it. Sometimes I’d forget for a whole week and have to fudge things, but that was all right too.
Some of the questions showed progress, some showed changed, but there’s one which was ‘how many coffees did you drink today?’ and that stayed the same every year: none. I started listing other things I’d had to drink just for something new to say.
Overall I feel a little sad for having this journal finished now. It’s been a nice habit, a routine which was part of my life for five years. I’m not the same person I was when I started it, and putting it onto the shelf felt hard.
I’m considering how to replace it, or if I need to. I’ve started a bullet journal this year, to help organise my writing and keep track of things. Maybe I can journal a little in that each night, or maybe I do a picture a night instead? Or maybe I just read, and let those past five years rest on the shelf.
Overall I enjoyed this project, sometimes it was a pain in the ass, but it only being a couple of lines to fill with a guide question made it easy enough to do. I’d recommend it, it proved to me that I can stick to something over time, that a habit can form. It was also nice to know that at least I’d written something even if it wasn’t fiction, or whatever.
Tonight will be my first night in five years with no question to answer except ‘what next?’
And that’s pretty damn exciting.