I never really know what to do with these things – if I’m being honest. I’ve been charmed by the concept since I was a little girl, long collecting beautiful notebooks found in random bookstores and pawn shops and Walgreens pharmacies. I’ve had stacks of them – some very official looking and leather bound, some velvety and whimsical, some with a cheeky quote on the cover – and all of them sit in their stacks, with blank pages begging for stories that I can never find the time and devotion to fill them with.

But this time, I’ve decided, (hopefully, unlike all the other times I decided this) will be different. Because, well, this book is special.

See, to date, the most profound years of my life were the ones I spent in Rome. ‘Profound’ sounds a little lofty, I know. But it’s hard to describe them any other way. Because my time there acted as a sort of internal revolution.

I moved there on a whim…Just a lost puppy with nothing to my name but a suitcase full of old dresses and enough harbored self-loathing to physically crush a man twice my size. An empty vessel, in a lot of ways, looking to be filled up with anything that didn’t hurt. I thought some pasta and history might suffice. Of course, it never would have… not in any lasting way, at least. So I’m lucky that I found what I did in Rome – Good people. Good people who showed me that maybe I wasn’t the lost cause I had cast myself as. That I could be loved for exactly who I was. And more than that.. that I could ( and should, and eventually, would) learn to love myself, too.

And these good people became my family. My safe space. Them loving me the way that they did showed me that I was someone worth loving. They gave me the kind of confidence that comes from finally feeling like you belong somewhere. And they did such a bang up job, apparently, that I’ve decided to leave them. To try my hand at loving myself even when they’re not there to remind me too.

Two years ago, leaving people behind that meant this much would have been the hardest, most tortured decision I ever made. In all honesty, two-years-ago-me probably wouldn’t have even considered the thought. But I’m different now. I trust myself. And so I’m venturing out into the world, just me, my suitcase full of old dresses, some new-found hope and this journal, given to be my Roman family of friends.

So why will this time be different, you ask, Journal? Why are you the book that will finally get to hold my secrets and fears and dreams and ramblings? I’ll tell you. Each of my friends – Ana and Ivan and Lu and Naomi and Devin and Trevor and Cat – wrote a small love letter of farewell to me. Each note is written on random page between your purple covers, waiting for me to discover them and be reminded of their love as I fill you up with stories of the days that come after my time with them. I’ve decided not to seek the notes out, opting instead to happen across them as I fill out one clean page after another. Their words to me are incentive enough to keep writing, I’m sure. But most of all, I like to imagine that because they’re eternally here inside of you -a book that was designed to hold my future – they won’t soon become a part of my past.
So here’s to keeping with it, and to discovering my future without having to forget the past. Something tells me I’ll need reminding of who I am, from time to time.