Jordan W Looks Back - March 2008 (Ten Years Ago)

It was snowing the day the first diary arrived by mail on my mom’s doorstep. Our cat Muffin was certainly loafing somewhere when the bus stopped at the end of our driveway. I can see myself jumping off the bus and running up the 400 foot long gravel driveway as the bus grumbled off. I’m sure I was not dressed for snowy weather, as eighth graders tend not to wear gloves or hats or anything. When I reached the top of the driveway I would punch in the code to open the garage door and go into the house, where it would be just me and Muffin for awhile. Snacks would be eaten. A nap would probably be taken. No one tells you what to do when you are a latchkey eighth grader.

At some point in the midst of this a UPS truck barreled up the driveway and left a small package on the front doorstep. It was a leather diary that had cost $60 dollars, which is a lot of allowance money when your allowance is $5 a week. But I wanted a diary that looked old and authoritative. This was right around the time we were reading The Diary of Anne Frank in Ms. Bernhardt’s Honors English class. We were doing a diary project and I ordered this diary so I could keep the entries going after the project was over, which I did (and continue to do).

In March of 2008 the subprime mortgage crisis was getting going, and the U.S. economy was creaking under the weight of massive defense spending from the destructive wars the U.S. had its fingers in in the Middle East. Politics were not on my radar at all, except for a vague dislike of George W. Bush. I suppose Obama must have been on the up-and-up at that point. I sort of remember watching primary results between Hillary and Obama while on a stationary bike at a Lifetime Fitness at one point. But in eighth grade my world was small. It was Muffin, and a plastic tray of morning glory seedlings I planted that were blooming in a south window of our house that Muffin destroyed once when her claws got stuck in them (why did she go up there?). Racism was something that happened in the South and in the 1960s. The inequality between the fortunes of my two divorced parents (one with a college degree, one without) was something I would not notice until years later. Poverty was something I had almost no connections to.

We had just gotten DSL internet which meant we didn’t have to wait forever to reach basic websites via dial-up. This opened up my little world to Wikipedia. I was enamored with Anne Frank and Benjamin Franklin, two historical figures I was learning about in school. Pretty much every day I would look at Anne Frank’s Wikipedia page. Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt were also very interesting to me because of a set of computer games from the $1 section at Target called Caesar III, Poseidon, and Pharaoh.

In March 2008 I was just beginning to understand in the most vague and confused of ways that I was a homosexual. Only years later, digging up those thoughts from underneath the unconscious, self-protective denial I hid them under at the time, do I realize how early it was that I knew about the homosexuality. John Rowland, Gabrielle Solis’s gardener/love interest on Desperate Housewives, piqued my interest and I watched mashup videos of him and Gabi on YouTube when I was home alone after school. At the time I convinced myself that I wanted to be him. Really, I just wanted him. It wouldn’t be until down the road that I embraced this.

The images that stick with me from this day and days like this are the sun streaming through the south windows of the house, feeding the seedlings. And Muffin jumping into these seedlings and destroying them. And Mom driving me to the high school in the morning for my advanced math class in her Volkswagen Beetle that always had a taillight out. Swim practice after school. Dandelions covering the yard. Watching SNL and laughing at Tina Fey. Being the one kid in my eighth grade band class who didn’t fake his practice minutes (and got a D+ in band as a result). Deciding to switch from Flute to Trumpet so people wouldn’t make fun of me for playing a womanly instrument.

Lots of Desperate Housewives. I was transfixed by the perfect, suburban utopia the show made seem natural. Every house was perfectly tidy and neat. Their lives were perfect. It was like they were performing a ballet, except the ballet was their everyday lives.

If you made it to the end of this, congratulations! You just shared a moment in a different place and time with me. March 2008, ten years ago. The month I began my diary. The month my adolescence began. I hope you enjoyed it! More to come. I love looking back in time...