Dear Diary

August 8, 2012

Heaven is a place on earth.


Mum and I had taken the car into town. It was busy and we had to go up and up the stacked car park to find a space. Once I’d slammed the door, I noticed we were high enough to see a snatch of the steely train tracks that lie below. A bright red Virgin train passed, sounding its horn―you know it’s such a sad sound. It evoked a lot more: I could also smell the train’s interior—a smell of magazines, of other people’s bitter coffee and bacon sandwiches. I could hear the pulsing of the tracks, feel that strange hunger from very early mornings when excitement and nerves make it hard to eat.

Almost every year my family and I would take that train through green hills and rough towns, graffiti-covered walls and cold train stations up to Scotland―it would carry us halfway through our journey, just up to Glasgow, on our way to a remote island called Iona, in the same cluster of islands as the Mitford family island and the island where George Orwell wrote 1984 in complete solitude.

To feel that far away from everything, but still so utterly at home, is something I miss. That island was part of our routine; I knew it well, and yet every year it held new people and new experiences. My family is older now, and my brother and I have spun out in our own directions—so family holidays aren’t quite the same. Young families, out of necessity, become so tightly bound they become an entity, especially when traveling. I miss those times, and those journeys.

And it was the journey that made it. To take a plane and just arrive there—to not comprehend how far you’ve come, from Birmingham to Glasgow to Oban by train, to sea crossings and coach rides and a small boat and eventually to a spot on the white-sand beach where you could look out and there would be nothing until America—wouldn’t be the same.

I stood there in the car park and let myself remember. There was a deep pang of something or other that resolved in pain and then faded to a strange comfort. It was comforting to know that that red train still existed. Those tracks still led somewhere, and that train still rode those tracks cutting through the country, not only in my imagination but right now. And on some unspecified day I would be on it again.


I don’t worry so much about Dad, because I think of him as the bravest in our family. He has a steely veneer, but also a humility he has arrived at by working in the church. Everybody asks for a piece of his attention, an airing of their worries, perhaps unaware that they are not the only one. Dad is the least selfish person I know. He’s had a lot of trouble with his eyes lately. Been to hospital countless times. He’s been home more than ever―having to position himself sideways on the sofa to keep an air bubble in his eye in the right place. We haven’t been able to relax into the summer—only into the sofa. Even if we had booked a holiday, we wouldn’t have been able to go. And so me and Dad sit in our places, in our house.


On one particularly bad day last year that I can only differentiate as the day I tried to meditate, I wrote Gandhi’s 10 fundamentals for changing the world in felt-tip pen on the end of my bed. I used to stare at the red “WITHOUT ACTION YOU AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE” in utter frustration. It mocked me when I was stuck―unable to go out, unable to eat, unable to sleep. The colours are fading now, and there has been action―good action―but I still don’t feel I am going anywhere. ♦


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  • August 8th, 2012 7:22 PM

    Ruby: Congrats on getting the part if draco! That just so happens to be my fav character in a very potter musical :)

  • maddy417 August 8th, 2012 7:41 PM

    naomi, i know exactly how you feel! i spent a lot of time on trains and planes this summer and there’s something so oddly melancholy about them. my brother and i are both starting to travel on our own and it’s weird to think it’s the end of an era of family vacations.

    also, i haven’t been to iona but as i’m writing this comment, my computer desktop background is a photo i took in oban last month. WHAT ARE THE ODDS (this is only a crazy coincidence due to the detail that i’m american so scotland is ~far away)

    • dramallama August 8th, 2012 9:28 PM

      I went to iona last holidays AND my name is iona it was so weird seeing that :0

  • GlitterKitty August 8th, 2012 7:51 PM

    Dylan, the last sentence of that was so perfectly spot-on. It reminded me of getting the “always happy” award at summer camp. Although I am quite happy at camp and was flattered people noticed, I disliked that award too. It seemed so one sided and superficial. And when I am upset or feeling generally bummed out, I always think about that and get even more upset because I’m the happy one and WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME!?!?? Ugh life can be hard.

  • Mim August 8th, 2012 8:02 PM

    According to the Goldilocks-principle, clearly that in-between place for nice and dark-secret-lacking people is in Oregon! :D (Also mean, dark secret having ones, but they stand out.)

    • Anaheed August 8th, 2012 8:16 PM

      Now that you mention it, everyone we met in Portland WAS really great…

  • LeavesThatAreGreen August 8th, 2012 8:12 PM


  • bugaleeto August 8th, 2012 8:54 PM

    the “heaven is a place on earth” thing made me think of Lana Del Rey, which made this post even MORE dreamier.

  • Tiger August 8th, 2012 9:13 PM


  • Kathryn August 8th, 2012 9:19 PM

    Ruby, I am also non-ironically obsessed with Harry Potter! I started reading them in like first grade, so it’s been a part of my life for a long time, too. I cried when I finished the last one, and I felt really weird after I finished watching the last movie (I went to it at the midnight viewing thingy).

  • Victoria the Monster August 8th, 2012 9:37 PM

    Ruby- You are my soulmate.

  • maddyr August 8th, 2012 9:57 PM

    Katherine, did you see Claude the albino alligator at the California Academy of Sciences? He’s really cool.

  • bookworm123 August 8th, 2012 10:21 PM

    Ruby: NICE! Draco! Have a BLAST–AVPM is awesome, even more so than Redvines:)

    • bookworm123 August 8th, 2012 11:21 PM

      Also, how does one like Harry Potter ironically? Being a die-hard Potterhead since kindergarten, I don’t quite get the concept.
      (P.S. Is anyone here lucky enough to be going to LeakyCon? Team Starkid will be there, among other fab people, and I am JEALOUS of anyone who’s going!)

  • Peet August 8th, 2012 11:22 PM

    This is the first time I’ve commented on Rookie (though I’ve read almost every article 0__o) because I just HAD to.

    NAOMI:: my mom had the same surgery as your dad I think!!! She had to lay on her side for a couple of weeks without moving (insanity) and had to put in lots of eye drops for a few weeks too. DON’T WORRY. she’s totally fine now, so I’m sure your dad will be too! She does complain about her eye but I mostly think that’s just her …… anyway she was very happy to know she wasn’t the only person in the universe getting the surgery!

    I also don’t know WHAT I would do without Rookie in my life. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve never met you guys because it seems that your interests and ideas are more germane (looked that word up in my SAT book, HOLLER) to mine than honestly those of most of my closest friends. It’s great to find such kindred spirits who have similar obsessions and just general outlooks of life.

    Sorry for all of the caps lock, but I just love caps.

  • Adrienne August 8th, 2012 11:30 PM

    Katherine! I love the California Academy of Sciences. I haven’t been to that exhibit yet, but I love the aquarium, indoor rainforest, and the planetarium!

    Ruby, AVPM rocks my socks. I think I found it a year and a half ago or something, and watched it countless times ever since. I feel like that AVPM has better songs and a better story, but AVPS is funnier. IT IS CONFIRMED THAT THERE WILL BE A THREEQUEL! And congrats with the part! I bet you’ll be great as Draco. Are you going to roll around on the floor? :)

    Holy Musical B@man! is hilarious as well. :D

    • 3LL3NH August 10th, 2012 5:42 PM

      Threequel!?!?!?! That is too exciting, they are so incredible.

      And I agree, Ruby, you are perfect, and Draco is such a good part. If you never do anything else, it’s so worth it!

  • guiltfreedonut August 8th, 2012 11:51 PM

    Spot on with the “Seattle Freeze!” I lived there for a few years in middle school and felt the exact same way. I thought it was only me! It’s really annoying that everyone is so worried about what everyone else is thinking about them and not just being themselves… It’s a very uniform city. I live in New York now and it’s a lot better, but there still are weird different social things. Maybe it does happen in every city!

  • marimba_girl August 9th, 2012 12:16 AM

    DRACO!!!!! Make sure to roll around on the floor a lot and simper after Hermione :)

  • Blythe August 9th, 2012 12:26 AM

    *seemingly-happy-but-actually-fucked-up-Californian raises hand*

  • Lucille August 9th, 2012 3:22 AM

    Ruby, you lucky girllll!congrats!

  • sedgwick August 9th, 2012 9:00 AM

    wait. ruby are you saying there are IRONIC harry potter fans out there? thats not right. impossible. how could people even do the lame ironic liking of something so good? harry potter transcends everything

  • Eryn August 9th, 2012 12:13 PM


  • christinachristina August 9th, 2012 12:47 PM

    uh, hey, ruby? you’re my hero.

  • Casey August 9th, 2012 12:48 PM

    Ruby, I would love it if you videotaped your adaptation of AVPM!!! I love Starkid (Lauren Lopez = my wife, Joe Walker = my husband…and the rest are all my secret lovers), and I would love to see you as Draco!

  • aliceee August 9th, 2012 4:07 PM

    Ruby that is so cool!!!! Good luck, my man :D

  • airplanes.books August 9th, 2012 7:25 PM

    dylan! “Up there, it’s not cool to be, well, like me: hyper, socially proactive, stoked about stuff. ” broad generalization! i’m from seattle, and live here, and i’m stoked a lot?

  • Yayo August 9th, 2012 7:37 PM

    ‘Heaven is a place on earth’

    … with you, tell me all the things you want to do. I heard that you like the bad girls, HONEY, IS THAT TRUE? It’s better than I ever even knew.

    (Sorry, ignore my hard-core Lana Del Rey fan-ning over here. It cheered me up.)

  • DE August 10th, 2012 5:19 PM

    Whenever I’m really anxious and feeling completely alone I read rookie and instantly I feel better. Thank you so much for softening the blow of growing up.

    • Dylan August 10th, 2012 9:16 PM

      I love that and feel the same way.

  • Eugenie August 12th, 2012 11:49 PM

    The normal people are the ones you don’t know very well Dylan. Everybody has their “secret”, and if you don’t yet, one day you will. I just hope no one decides they don’t want to be your friend because of it.

  • karastarr32 August 13th, 2012 2:56 PM

    OMG I luv Iona!! Gonna read the rest now… :)

  • JennaF August 17th, 2012 8:10 AM

    Dylan, I know exactly what you mean about L.A. There were two main parts to it: 1) if someone was friendly, they had a hidden agenda (someone tried to recruit me to their cult — energetically) and 2) if I was friendly, people were suspicious of MY motives! (Because #1 was so widespread.)

    I’ve found major cities in the Midwest to be that perfect combo you’re talking about. Minneapolis, Madison, Columbus, sort of Chicago.

  • LittleMissE August 24th, 2012 4:27 PM

    Okay I know this was a few weeks ago but I just found this now and *scream* RUBY OHMYWIZARDGOD. You are like the ultimate kindred spirit. I too have completely memorized AVPM (and a good chunk of AVPS) and I regularly reenact the scenes with my fellow Potterhead/Starkid friends. I am so jealous that you actually get to be in a production of AVPM – I hope you have blast. I know it’ll be TOTALLY AWESOME (*Goyle voice* Yeah you’ll be the one who is totally awesome)

  • Ellie October 13th, 2012 11:32 PM