Tuesday, August 18, 2009


February 10, 1983 Thursday 50 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,

"Today was a half day. I had no homework. Lara is spending the night. Here is some Great News, Mom is getting married to Jeff. Jeff is very nice and happy. I will have three brothers, one sister, two dads and one mom, and of course Me. I am very excited I think. I'll be living with Jeff and won't have as much time with Mom as usual. I hope it works out. Well, I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your confused friend, Jennifer."

This entry fascinates me. Jennifer underlined the words Great News. She immediately ticked off all her gains--new siblings, another dad--like pirate booty. She's counting her remarriage loot, then she begins to backtrack. She thinks she's excited. She's worried about sharing her mom's attention and she ends the entry confused.

Note the underlined words....

February 11, 1983 Friday 49 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Lara left around 11:00am. The rest of the day was boring. Lara is getting on my nerves. My room in Alaska is bigger than the one I have now. I might get a hanging chair and a beanbag. Since I'll have a twin bed, the room will be extra big. Well I gotta go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer had a full size bed at her dad's. One of Jennifer's defense mechanisms when it comes to moving is to focus on the things she doesn't like about where she is and to focus on the good things about where she's going. It's easier to leave a bedroom that's too small, a friend who is annoying, a house that is boring, a dad who makes mistakes...

February 12, 1983 Saturday 48 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I was supposed to have my lesson but stupid dad forgot. I'm going to have it tomorrow. I am moving in 48 days, yaaaa! I'm sorry I can't write long but bye Ophelia."

As the transcriber of the diaries, I'd like to point out two firsts for this entry. It's the first time Jennifer uses an exclamation mark and it's the first time she doesn't sign her name. Trivia.

February 13, 1983 Sunday 47 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today at my lesson it went okay until jumping where I messed up on a course. Joel is happy I'm moving to Alaska. Maybe he is bored living there by himself. I have to pack my things, well not pack but find things I don't need or want so we can have a garage sale. Today I made a really neat Valentine for Mom. Well bye Ophelia. Your happy friend, Jennifer. P.S. I love you."

Jennifer's new step-dad to be had three kids of his own. A grown daughter named Angela and twin ten-year old boys, Joel and Christian. Angela lived in Minnesota where she attended college. Christian lived with his mom in Minnesota and Joel lived with his dad in Alaska. Jennifer was leaving her older, blood brother and gaining a younger brother who she barely knew. She would now be the eldest child in the house.

Jennifer met Joel, Christian and Jeff the previous summer when she visited her mom in Alaska. She liked all of them. Jennifer was on the brink of turning thirteen, her mother was planning her wedding and she and Jeff were about to become step-parents to tweenagers. Everyone entered into this New Deal with innocent enthusiasm.

February 14, 1983 Valentine's Day 46 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Happy Valentine's Day. Will you be my Valentine? At the school dance I asked Randy to dance but he said maybe. I kept asking him but he wouldn't dance. He never actually said no. I spent most of my time chasing him and never had time to dance with anyone else. Mom called and I got a Valentine from her. Tomorrow I am going to write Becky. It's late right now. Bye Ophelia. Your Valentine, Jennifer."

Ahhh, the sixth grade dances. I remember mine well. We had a smoke machine. I will never forget the sweet smell of the smoke and the strobe lights and the music! I also remember chasing after that one super hot boy with all my friends, ignoring all the other boys. I remember the slow dance. Holding on to a boy that you would never play with on the play ground, tasting a little piece of heaven, feeling contentment and having no real hormones to make the moment anything more than what it simply was.

I'm sorry for the 30 second commercial...listen to this for a blast from the past! It's Change by Tears for Fears

Tops Songs Jennifer would have heard at the Dance
Change--Tears for Fears
Down Under--Men at Work
Electric Avenue--Eddy Grant
Billie Jean--Michael Jackson
Our House--Madness

Did you enjoy your sixth grade dances?

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