Tightly closed and thoughtfully protected, my journals reflect me at my core. They are my closest confidants through life’s celebrations, tribulations, and mundane moments, and they occupy the space where my travels live in technicolor. Each one is carefully chosen and acts as their own character in the chapters that make up my personal narrative. Each booklet I have curated represents a destination I have flirted with or fallen for.
My handwriting has taken new forms from bubbly lettering to tangled cursive as I discover myself through different lenses. Where the letter “L” was once a blunt line, it is now a looped gesture, lazily formed by my right hand. In earlier journals, my world was seen through fresh eyes. This was reflected in my hurried handwriting. I pressed my pen firmly onto the pages, as if I had to jot down these novelties before they escaped me altogether. The cursive words that are now drawn above those grey lines are lighter and more contemplative. My lettering has become more complicated because my world has too.
I stop, ponder my surroundings and experiences, and take time to write what I really mean. I am compelled to flush out these thoughts because of the fleeting nature of my senses and emotions. I live in these pages because I can explore the boundaries of my mind. Here, I am present. On smooth pages with sharp edges, my discoveries are limitless and I feel at home amongst the blank canvas. I write to myself as if I am writing to a friend. People and places are introduced and experiences are unraveled in their rawest forms. Nonetheless, writing without any sort of filter is oftentimes more intimidating than writing any kind of academia. I breathe through my black inked pen and exhale enough vulnerability to scribble down the truth. To my journal, I am unapologetic.
Both my journals and travel destinations are physical spaces. From place to place they house people in the past and present who carry connections and collaborations of thoughts, ideas, and memories. Between the sloping curves of my capital letters and the valleys of cities I visit, both are the geography. From one journal to the next, my diction changes, much like my language transition from English to Italian. Leather shops and gelaterias line the streets of Florence as mementos of what the city offers at first glance. Similarly, the train tickets and dried, pressed flowers I paste into my pages hint at experiences from a surface level.
Whether I walk ten minutes to the supermarket to buy a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice or take planes and trains to France to eat macarons, my journals are my travels. I develop a relationship with each destination as if it is a person. Some I grow close, intimate bonds with while others are remembered for one or two striking features. Some cities pass me by while others force me to stop in my tracks altogether. Between myself and whatever physical space I inhabit, a connection is always exchanged. Like the number of destinations I have encountered, and empty notebooks I have conquered, these are the cumulative building blocks of who I am becoming as a writer and a traveler.