I would like to begin this column with the requisite admission that I am not at A-Camp. In fact, I have never been to A-Camp, mostly due to practical things like having a job.
While I will admit that, on some level, this reality fills me with a fear of missing out (see: FOMO) so vast and so deep that it rivals the Atlantic Ocean, I am comforted by the realization that, if you are reading this, you are probably not at A-Camp either.
So before either of us sulk off to scribble sadly in our diaries, let us take heart! We have each other! We have our journals! And, most importantly, we have the great outdoors.
Now that spring has sprung (depending, I suppose, on your hemisphere of residence), even the tragically A-Camp-free world is filled with sunshine, flowers, and cute children with lesbian mamas romping through parks in adorably striped shirts. It is time, my dear queer diarists, to abandon your dim, carpeted hidey-holes and venture out onto the verdant carpet of Mother Nature!
Desks are all well and good for the winter months, but once the weather begins to warm up, I am a firm believer that there is no substitute for outdoor journaling. Journaling while outside makes me feel simultaneously like a great philosopher/poet, a student in a brochure for a small liberal arts college, and Rory Gilmore, who, I would like to remind the world, once paid twenty dollars in cold hard cash to reclaim her spot under her favorite study tree. Where else can you gaze up at the sky for inspiration or frolic through fields of wildflowers as you contemplate the mysteries of life?
I am not the only one who has good things to say about outdoor writing — or being outdoors more broadly. In the always great words of Margaret Atwood, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” As much as I enjoy the smell of raspberry almond bath gel, I think I would also like to end every day smelling like dirt — and holding a pen in my hand.
Here are a few ideas for outdoor journaling:
- Add a pressed flower or a leaf to the page you are working on or, if you prefer to leave no trace, draw a picture of said flower or leaf to remember it by.
- Take the first few minutes of your journaling session to describe the sounds around you — which are probably a nice change from the whirring of your computer’s fan or the strange creakings of the man in the apartment above you.
- Imagine the same location 100 years in the past. How big was the tree you are now leaning against then? Would the man on the bench to your right be sporting an extremely dapper bowler hat or checking a gold pocket watch?
- Make a list of cheesy similes to describe the beauty of nature. Then, forgive yourself for the clichés and take a moment to appreciate the way the blooms on the nearest tree really are as lovely as a Sunday morning.
I am aware, of course, that not everyone is on the very best terms with the great outdoors. If you are an indoor-cat-type-person (you know who you are), don’t forget to bring the multiplicity of items you will need to survive in the outdoor world: tissues, for your pollen allergy; sunscreen, to shield you from harmful UV rays; and perhaps even a travel-sized container of hand sanitizer in case you come into any contact with a real live insect. Although an outdoor journaling quest may seem perilous, there is always an off chance that a beautiful journal-toting maiden awaits her fearless lady knight at the edge of the nearest park.
Peer out your windows, Straddlers. Can you see a park bench beckoning? A shady tree? A vacant stoop? Grab your notebooks and head outside into the wide world of journaling greatness!
Dear Queer Diary is a column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We crack open our tiny notebooks and break out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!
Header by Rory Midhani