I took my assigned diaries home with the idea that I would read them a little at a time, after all, I had at least a month to finish, plus Thanksgiving with all the trimmings was looming. When I got home, however, I was itching to start. It was late Sunday evening, the dinner dishes were still on the table and the books were stacked nearby. Perching quickly on the end of my chair, I grabbed one, just to read a quick entry or two, before starting Sunday dinner clean up. An hour and a half later I was still sitting. I looked up at the clock and realized my butt was still on the edge of the chair, my back stiff from not moving. It was a fascinating read and I really didn't understand why.
The four books I took were from two different era's in Dorothy's life- her early thirties and her early fifties. I took the books from 1968-69 because she wrote them at about the age I am now. I thought it was as good place as any to start. The two diaries from 1948 and '49 were what grabbed my attention. She wrote everyday, even if it was just to post "Nothing". Her writing was dry and emotionless. She merely recorded events, in an inventory-like manner, that happened on any given day. Certain things were mentioned repeatedly, phone calls were important and mentioned often. Dinners out were mentioned with more emotion and detail (which wasn't hard) than the historic events that happened during the years I read. Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther-King Jr. died in my diaries. They were marked by one line each.
I think the thing that held me rapt was that we knew virtually nothing about Dorothy Talley. We knew the year she was born, her sex and race. That's all. This first read for me was like starting a large painting, I was sketching out her life. And the thought of fleshing it out into a fully realized picture fascinated me. I was so disappointed that I didn't have the books before and after mine. I wanted to know how Joel came into her life and how long he stayed there. By her fifties this man, whom she mentioned almost everyday with as much love and affection as anything else in her life, was gone. I wanted to confirm that Rudy was a person and not just a place. Most of all, I really, really wanted to do research on Dorothy Talley.
I will tell you what I found after Thanksgiving. Have a peaceful fulfilling holiday. I'm going to go enjoy my family.