The act of keeping a diary has a long history, and a tangled relationship with subjective “truth.” Although diaries have long been associated with women, Margo Culley argues in the essay “I Look at Me: Self as Subject in the Diaries of American Women” that diary-writing was not a feminized form until the second half of the nineteenth century — with the era’s shifting notions of self, the private sphere, and inner life — and again in the feminist 60s and 70s.
For Didion, New York got old at twenty-eight, eight years after arriving. Not quite so young anymore, she discovered that ‘not all the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all.’ Back in her home state of California, she writes of how she had felt to be ‘on some indefinitely extended leave,’ never really ‘living a real life’ in New York. Maybe it’s simply that I don’t feel myself to be living a ‘real life’ anywhere, that I haven’t managed to live in one place for more than eight months let alone eight years. But I’m thirty-one, and ecstatic to be back in New York, despite the long time knowledge that my mistakes here always have counted.
At the age of thirty-two, I have done the impossible and returned home—not for a holiday or a funeral, but to set up residency in a region of the Florida Panhandle so remote that even Comcast Cable has declined the opportunity to overcharge us for Internet service. I say “impossible” because that’s how the saying goes, doesn’t it, that a person “can’t go home again”—or at least Thomas Wolfe and Joan Didion made compelling cases.
by Gina Balibrera
Christy Turlington, 1990s supermodel and Salvadoran-American, may or may not be my prima. The connection has never been confirmed, and I’m not trying to say I’m as fly as Christy, but her mother’s maiden name, “Parker,” is an apellido shared by some of the members of my family in El Salvador, and she grew up near San Francisco, where I grew up, so it’s not inconceivable to imagine that some of her family came over to the US around the same time mine did, maybe even on the same boat. El Salvador is a small enough place that finding unknown relatives can be as easy as flipping through the phone book.