The purpose of pen and paper

Alyssa Matesic, Staff Writer

The journal was blank. Holding a blue pen in my hand, I sat down on my bed and opened up to the first page. I tried to focus, but the pen still slipped and wobbled around between my fingers. I tried to remember my capitalization and spelling rules. I sounded out the more difficult words. Eventually, somewhat of a sentence was formed – without any punctuation, of course.

“Mom I fel so gate tat your my mom,” the first entry of our book read.

I slammed the cover shut and ran over to my parents’ room. I paused at the door, which was cracked open. A slight breeze came in through it. I could hear voices downstairs, so I was sure that it was safe to enter. I placed the journal under my mom’s pillow, which was on the left side of the bed, and left just a sliver of it poking out so she would notice. I exited the room as swiftly as possible.

When I woke up the next morning, with a haze of slumber still distancing me from my surroundings, I found the journal underneath my own pillow. A burst of excitement fully awakened me and I opened up to the first page again.

“Alyssa, I love you very much and I am proud of how well you are reading and writing. XXOOXO, Mom,” read an entry underneath my own.

For sentimental purposes, she had added the date above my blue scrawl: Dec. 28, 2000.

Our journal-passing tradition went on intermittently for years. In the beginning, I repeatedly told her how much I loved her and how much fun I had playing with my friends. Then, as I approached double-digits, my entries reflected my growing self-consciousness.

“Mom, I hate myself,” I wrote once.

I told her about my crushes. I complained about drama with my friends. I recounted my day at school. Our journal acted almost as a diary for me, but I knew she would read it. And I wanted her to. That was how I shared my life with her.

We never talked about the journal verbally, though. It was an unspoken agreement between us. What was written there was never to leave those pages. Our words were to travel from pillow to pillow and make no detours. That was exactly how I wanted it to be. Somehow, I couldn’t physically say what I wrote in that journal.

To this day, my lips can never truly express words the way my pen can. My phrases never seem to find the right places, and my sentences come out jagged and undone. I’ll close my mouth after minutes of talking and feel like I have said nothing at all. Speaking is easy, but expressing is difficult.

To find a place where one’s heart can be read – or seen, or heard – is to find a way of expression. Armed with my pen, I can take the jumbled mess of memories and worries and ideas that makes up my mind and create something more comprehensible out of it. Armed with my camera, I can forever archive a moment that I specifically found and picked out to remember. Armed with my piano, I can replace silence with music, and move people to feel whatever I feel. Without any one of my outlets, I would be trapped.

I realized at a young age that there are some thoughts and emotions that simply cannot be stated verbally. In my case, there are hardly any at all. I have my “Mommy & Baby Book” to prove it. Without my escape, my pen and paper, there would be too many things left unspoken built up inside me. My heart would explode from the pressure.

Everyone has something to say; just not everyone has found a way to say it.