For my twelfth birthday, I was given the gift of a diary. It had a lock and a key and endless blank pages. I remember sitting on my bed, looking at these empty pages, and wondering how I was going to fill them. I also knew that I was living a beige life and had nothing interesting to write about.
Some people can write about nothing and make it seem extraordinary; I’ve never been one of them. The lock and key sent my thoughts skittering in a couple of directions.
Why did I need to lock my diary? Did that mean that someone would read what I wrote without my knowledge and consent? It probably would never have occurred to me that someone would poke around in my private diary if there had not been a lock and key but now that it had, I couldn’t force myself to write anything that I considered personal.
But what could I write about that would sound interesting in case someone did some snooping? In those days, what would a twelve-year-old girl know about love or making love? Nowadays, it would be like teaching a fish to swim but, in those days, girls had no idea that the vagina was used for anything more than urinating.
A year later, when I was thirteen, I still didn’t have a clue about sex. I remember discovering a carton of books in the attic so I wrote a book report about one of them for the summer course I was taking. When I told my mother what I had written about, she was shocked. It seems that the book was about sex and I skipped over those scenes because I didn’t understand them.
I don’t have any artistic talent, but I remember drawing an unrecognizable picture of our new piano in my diary just to take up space. My mother wanted to have a piano in the house and since I was the oldest child, I was the one my mother chose to take piano lessons.
My teacher looked like Ichabod Crane and I never knew until twenty years later, that the reason he was replaced, was because he had made a pass at my mother, and not because I was a terrible pianist.
My diary, like my playing, had an unfinished quality. The pages of the diary never got filled and my piano playing never got better.