I’ve been away from the computer for the last few days. Away from the computer, but not without my notebook. I started writing the lines that make up this post while on the train to Glasgow on Thursday. I like trains, and I love writing while in transit. Something about the rhythm of the journey colours the words, knowing that that there will be some sort of evidence of change from beginning to end.
I’ve loved notebooks for as long as I can remember. Lined ones, because my hand-writing without them was, and still is, a bit wayward without them. My childhood heroes were: my Dad, my Grandmothers, and Harriet The Spy. After I read the book, I started recording my life in notebooks of my own.
The first journal I remember keeping started on another train journey, in Norway, when I was seven. The home for that journal was a green and white marble composition book that I still have. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen in my long years. In it wrote about my first fishing trip, and a dance, and a pizza with too many vegetables on it. At the start of that trip, I was a kid. By the end, I knew I was someone who wouldn’t be happy unless she was writing, or travelling. Preferably both.
I moved on from marble composition books to college-ruled notebooks. But for awhile I thought you actually had to be in college to use them, and that the ‘Notebook Police’ was coming to get me, that I would be ratted out during the ‘Notebook Checks’ we had in elementary school.
Back then I wrote about TV shows and carnivals and the summer I left sleep-away camp too early. In school, while my friends were handing in writing compositions on rainbows and puppies, the third grade me wrote about black roses and wind-storms and lone violinists playing at midnight. I’ve lightened up since then. A little.
The notebook I’m using these days is a small Penguin Books one that Sarge gave me. Written evidence that I have indeed lightened up. It was this notebook I took to Glasgow, where I was going to get a haircut. Dad picked me up afterwards, and when I got in the car he put only one of my wheelchair tires in the back seat. Leaving the other one propped up against his mode of transport, and driving off without mine. We discovered there was only one in the car when I needed both to get out of the car.
I called the hairdresser’s and asked what sounded to me like an odd question. Have you seen a wheel without a chair attached to it? I’m looking at it right now. Are you able to see that it hasn’t been wrecked by passing cars? I’m looking at it in the shop. We brought it in. Oh, great, lovely, yes. (Although, ‘great, lovely, yes’ can be filed under ‘understatement’.)
So we went back and got it, and life was good. A wheel can now be added to the list of things my father has forgotten on the roof of/around his car and driven off without. He lost a kilt and kilt shoes, by the same means, on different occasions. I also seem to remember a carton of milk going the same way. I am quite amused and a little honoured that something of mine could have been carted off into family legend. I am equally pleased the wheel was saved. This time.
Even though I will never forget it happened, I wrote it down. I know I said before that every journey brings change and transformation, but losing the wheel would have been pushing it, even for me.
And not every journey has to involve going across the world. You could go across the street, as long as you bring something back with you. A memory, some words. Or in my case, all required wheels.