​Actual hundreds of pages of handwritten words. A stack of sturdy, worn, leather-bound journals next to another stack of cheap, thrashed composition books that grew from nothing between the space of two Augusts. I know because I found the receipt for the first leather book under its cover.

I feel like it’s fated somehow that I’d gather them all and begin skimming through on this night. Same date as that night when I had resolved to begin writing in earnest.

No story. There is a story to be gleaned from it all, but not as written. Meeting notes. Musings. Night-on-night of sleepless weeping. Night and day the minutes of my refusal to let the injuries cripple me more. 

So much joy and hope. So much ache and rage. In rant, prose, and verse all inconsistent yet constant: ‘Mother fucker, this hurts, but I stand.’

I don’t know if there’s some publish-worthy something in all of those pages. I am surprised at just how much of it doesn’t sound like steaming trash to me though. More than anything I am profoundly surprised by how proud I am of the man who wrote it. Not always, but enough. More often than not. 

That’s the treasure in the pages. To go a full year without wishing I had done it all, every day differently. Not wishing I were someone else. I’m proud of that kid who took a thin and hungry year that overflowed with cruel loss and screamed defiance and hope back into the night. Smiling, he walked through the cold dark and called it home.

I did. If for no one else, it’s a story that I am proud to have written.