Summer of '76

Train hiking and journaling

Louis XVI is said to have written “Rien” (nothing) in his journal on the day the Bastille fell. Since he was the King, maybe he should have included more than just what happened in his little corner of the Palace of Versailles. But for all we know, it may have been a nothing day to him.

Fortunately my journal entries during months of travel around Europe in the 70s are much more extensive. Lots of things happened each day and at the end of the day or next morning there was usually time to write, sitting on a platform waiting for a train or on that train going somewhere.

Then it just seemed a good thing to do. Kind of fun. A bit of a chore some days. But I knew I was building memories and writing helps that process.

Later those journals got packed away in a box. Memories faded and blended. When thinking back, it got harder to remember. Did I really … or did …

In some cases I’ve been to the same place several times. So what happened which time?

Going back to read the journals straightened out a lot of that and also reminded me of things I’d totally forgotten. Even though the journal notes cover events from 35 or so years ago, when I read an entry, I can close my eyes and imagine being back there. And just as important for my writing: because of the journal notes, I can make sure to get details right, that would otherwise be forgotten, or at least be very hard to verify.

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