Dear Diary: My packing list

Jan. 8, 2024, 10:50 p.m.

Dear Diary,

I’m having fun here. It’s magical, the sunshine glittering in my bones, when I dance around like I’m a Joan Didion groupie with big Celine sunglasses and an itch for the clicking of a typewriter, a glass of bourbon, or maybe both. I hope it’s both. Really, I do. 

I do, because what else is there to live for? If Didion packs it, I, a phantom of a girl who spills words only when it’s leaking from her bloody gut, swear by it. Until I’m gray and unraveling, I’ll adore her list

2 skirts, 2 leotards, 1 pullover sweater, 2 pairs of shoes, stockings, a bra, nightgown, robe, slippers, cigarettes, bourbon; and in a bag: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil; and to carry: a mohair throw, typewriter, 2 legal pads, pens, files and house key. 

It was taped inside her closet door during her reporting years in Hollywood.

Let’s dance! Let’s imagine. Reporting in Hollywood, renting a Hertz car, and dousing the motel room’s bourbon scent with floral perfume — the lovely parts of a life so many (rising stars, I assume, but that’s what they tell me, condescension and all) in the Valley look down upon. Their disdain is delicious. I’m licking my lips at the glimpse of a despicable life running between words; I’m loving you, Didion, and I’m having fun here. So pack up, let’s go: we’re leaving the place they banished us to – the deepest slice of the Valley where the river used to lie – and we’ll need to bring a few things. 

1 skirt, 1 pair of jeans, 2 tees, 1 knit sweater, 2 pairs of shoes, tights, a bra, hoodie, sweatpants, tank, Celsius, matcha powder; and in a bag: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Natracare, face cleanser, moisturizer, body lotion, and to carry: a jacket, Macbook, 2 moleskins, pens, phone and dorm key. 

Even in my dreams, I am cold. That’s what the extra jacket is for, but I won’t put it on, not right now, because I lied. I’m sorry, but I don’t do much dancing and my bones don’t shimmer and I’m not having fun here, in the throes of the Valley’s lowest, where I’m smothered and unable to speak. 

The list moves on, travels far, but I am stuck. The cruelty of it all! Whirring minds, under the blinding sun of the Valley, offer reverence only to what they can see — a tree to climb, a world to maintain — and uselessness to our typewriters and pens. And since we’re useless, they point and laugh, because they’re doing something and we’re doing nothing. We can write and scream and whimper but no one listens to the bottom of the Valley, to slouching, paralyzed dolls that dream of a life beyond manufactured grass and slimy, ill-gotten dirt. So I’ll shout: Can’t we sever the tree at its roots, find a world to change? My suitcase has become a saw, but I cannot leave, cannot prepare my bags for a night of amputation in a magic motel room. I remain here, salivating for the Valley’s mercy. Didion’s list awaits.

Amanda is a freshman majoring in Political Science.

Login or create an account