Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue: Old journals make great thrift store reading

By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER October 20. 2017 8:53PM

A few friends and I were talking of our diaries, our journals, the writings we have been keeping for years - not notes on our phones, but rather, handwritten, inked out thoughts on lined papers, in notebooks, in fabric-enveloped journals.

My friend Lisa remarked she has all of her journals lined up on shelves - all in precise order. Mine are scattered in drawers and trunks and bookshelves all around my little house; I just found my leopard covered diary from 1974 (I was a literary fashionista even then).

But looking and thinking of these writings, these private moments, prompted me to think and ask my Budget Vogue self, what will happen to all of these writings? And where will all these journals go?

Full disclosure. In my thrift shop travels I often find empty journals and delight in spending a buck or two on an empty notebook rather than shelling out ten or twelve at Barnes and Noble for something slightly more pristine. On occasion there is some writing on the pages and, again, full disclosure, I am a voyeur at heart and hope to read salacious and interesting tidbits.

Just last week I came across a journal with the title, "Me, Myself and I. An Introspective Collection of My Innermost Thoughts and Feelings." "Oh, good," I thought. "This ought to be interesting." Alas, a large chunk of pages had been torn out... I'll never know the innermost thoughts and feelings of a complete stranger.

But this got me thinking - what does happen to diaries and journals when they are donated to a thrift shop? And I found out from Mary of Wonderland Thrift Shop in Stratham that volumes of "innermost thoughts and feelings" get donated all the time. She laughed and said, "We read them. ... The little kids' ones are the best; we read them and pass them along; they're so cute. We also find some nice poetry."

Jody, also of Wonderland, told me about one journal that had come in from the 1980s. "We all read it," she remarked. "I couldn't put it down. ... It was written by this young girl who was in love with a boy named George. We all wanted to know if she ended up marrying him. In the end, she did not."

Jody also brought me a journal written in 2014 by a young girl who'd just finished college. While only a few pages of the journal were written upon, they were insight into someone's life, struggles, innermost thoughts. Whoever wrote it started page one with, "I decided it was about time for a new journal as I really commit to bettering myself." I liked her.

Jody told me she'll save future journals that arrive for me. I will give her my first born child; I can think of nothing more exciting.

Alas, what is to become of my own journals when it's time to clean up all of my personal effects? I hope they end up in the hands of someone who loves to read, to write, to learn of lives and histories - not that my life is or has been all that exciting. When I started this Budget Vogue column I really thought I'd have to have a plan of what to do with those journals, those diaries, those ideas. But now I know; they'll end up where they end up.

And if they end up with you? Enjoy the ink, the angst, the adventures, the joy.

And, may you, Budget Vogue fashionistas, keep your own journals of histories and stories and people alive. Perhaps I'll find your innermost thoughts at some thrift shop, run home, grab a cup of tea and bliss out on your ink, angst, adventures and joy.

And if you don't want them read? Perhaps it's time for some fuel for the woodstove or the fire pit. They make ideal Budget Vogue combustibles.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at Budget Vogue appears monthly.

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