The day after Jesse and I did a "final" walkthrough of the burnt house (to get out anything in there that was deemed ruined, but that we still wanted to hang onto), he went back over while the demo guys started trashing everything left inside and beginning to tear out all the yucky fire stuff.

The garage is where the fire was--the only place flames actually destroyed. Everything in there was a total loss. 

Incredibly,  in the months before the fire, Jesse had taken a weird interest in keeping the garage organized and neat. Ever since we had moved in last summer, we had bins of stuff on the shelves in there and just recently, he had smartly decided to move these up into the crawlspace/attic above the garage since we rarely, if ever, needed the things inside. That way we could make room for boxes of diapers and paper products that we use regularly.

What was in those bins he moved? 

Our childhoods. Bins of sentimental things from before the internet existed.Photo albums, scrapbooks, art projects, random hilarious notes, our baby clothes, a newspaper from the day I was born; all the things we had decided during the course of our lives to NOT throw away and to keep with us.

Found in my frilly pink bible cover/carrier. Probably written when I was 8-9.

You would think a bunch of plastic bins filled with paper in the attic above the garage would have melted and burned just as fast as the boxes of diapers and toilet paper in the garage itself, not 6 feet below. Hot air rises, after all.

But somehow they didn't. 

The bins got pretty trashed and warped and straight up melted in some places, but the stuff inside was for the large part safe and we had taken those melted bins full of memories over to the rental house a few days before, content that the oldest of our things were safe.

When we left after our last sweep of the house I had a nagging fear and got a bit emotional knowing there were probably things inside that we had missed and would be thrown out. 

So when Jesse texted me on demo day and told me he had found a few more sentimental things while he was poking around, I figured it was a kid's drawing or a photo or two from high school.

What he actually found, that I didnt even realize was missing, was actually one of my most sentimentally treasured possessions I will ever own.

My grandmother's diary from 1938 and 1939. 

It must have tumbled out of one of the open corners of the melted bins and into the rubble when the insurance guys were moving it all down. I have no idea how Jesse spotted it with just a flashlight it since the diary is dark blue and the garage is totally blackened rubble and completely in the dark thanks to being boarded up. 

There are so many utterly magical things about this diary (which I was given when I was in college, 10 years after she had died).

Um she went to see the original King Kong in theaters. Is that the coolest thing you've ever heard?!?!

My grandmother was born Genoa Hall in 1924. Her two married names were Vincent and Parks. Vincent is my maiden name and Parks is the last name of my beloved (step)grandfather Fred whom she married after her husband, my dad's dad,  my Granddaddy Wallace, died--well before I was born.

She was my hero and my ultra favorite and I adored her more than any other person growing up. Noa is named after her for good reason.  Holding something in my hands that her sweet hands held so often almost 80 years ago is priceless to me. Reading her words is awe-inspiring and hilarious (note: 14 year old girls are loco no matter the era). 

Getting to know what she was like and what she did day-to-day decades before I knew her, when she was still a kid in a lot of ways turns my head with magic. Despite being barely a teenager, she was often in charge of the cooking for her whole family--she was the youngest of 13. "Kids" back then were legit capable, and had baller penmanship.

She grew up in Atlanta and diary overlaps SO many places that I spent time at while I was at Tech and even today. Ponce de Leon, The Fox, Kirkwood.  Her address in the front cover is the same street as the restaurant where Jesse and I had our first date.

I am kind of obsessed with the WW2 and surround era so reading ANY diary from that period would be fascinating to me, and the fact that it is my beloved grandmother's account is unreal. Granted, there's not a lot of political or world event commentary, but just seeing "Sears Roebuck" and "weenie roast" and mentions of "listening to 'Gangbusters' on the radio program" makes me just want to powder my nose, put on a pointy bra and travel right back to that time.

I LOVE that she doesn't scratch out the old names when she adds new ones. Gotta keep those options open!

If you look in the bottom right area, you see "Wallace," my grandfather's name written just once. Her longtime steady boyfriend during this time for Bobby Lynes, who competed with "Ed" and maybe "Ralph" in her heart, but she was friends with Ruth Vincent, who was Wallace's younger sister. It's so fascinating to see her swoon over all these boys on the pages, and then her actual future husband appears every now and then in the most ordinary scenes, "Ruth and I went for a ride. Wallace was there." I'm like, LOL, girl, that's your man!!! It makes me feel trés McFly at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

Granted, it does say KEEP OUT (please), but surely she didn't mean to keep it off the internet! So many boys' names!!! This is so mind-blowing because she was the most capable, grounded, sharp woman; to know that even she was a boy crazy teenage girl spins my head and makes me realize what I'm headed for raising two of these creatures. 

March 26, 1938  "I found out that Sue liked Bobby. Father in heaven, I pray that I will win." 

As a descendent of her + NOT BOBBY, I gotta thank the heavenly father for not answering that particular plea.

Whoops, mispelling your own future last name. Classic mistake!

"Dorothy said something about me. The old ______!! Shes an enemy of mine. She just doesn't like me. I think she's jealous"

"The funniest thing has happened- Dopey Barber asked me to go 'steady' with him with I didn't even like him"

Dorothy and Genoa were basically the T. Swift/Katy Perry "Bad Blood" of their time. And I feel for Dopey Barber and hope she let him down easy.

I know what it is to be a 14 year old girl. To imagine your husband and future life (and to get it blessedly wrong 99.9% of the time). To compare my experience of that part of my life to hers is unreal.

I wish I had a diary of hers from when she was raising my dad and my aunt (and when her 3rd baby died a few days after she had him). Heck, I wish I had anything that let me know her more. 

In some ways this diary is like reading her blog, and naturally I imagine and wonder if anyone farther down my genetic pipeline will ever read these words and marvel at being the someones in my life that arent even born (if you are one of these, reading in the future, I'm sorry I just bent your brain with that thought, and I hope you guys have weeded out the acne and paleness that my people suffer).

Getting these glimpses into her head in 1938, as I sit here with 25% of her DNA making me who I am in 2016, brings tears to my eyes. Somehow holding this little depression-era firecracker in my head alongside the knowledge that she is currently and has been with Jesus for over 20 years now, and all that happened in between is almost more than my heart has the capacity to have awe over.

Life is such a mind trip and I hope heaven includes infinity of these moments of knowing each other's experiences and hearts ever and ever deeper.

I am dizzy with gratitude that Jesse discovered my Mano's (her grandma name) diary. I would leave my iPhone or a giant pile of cash behind to the flames a hundred times over before I would willingly part with this treasure (cousins, if you're reading this, please to rob me to take it away from me. I grant you unlimited visitations and readings!).

P.S. Descendants: if you ever find anything I wrote at any point before 1999, you are honor bound BY MY DNA to destroy it and definitely not publish it on the Internet (or whatever media your ape overlords allow you). Grammy k8 was a very unstable tween.

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