The first entry is actually from 1950. He’s studying at College Laval, writing about boring classes and teachers, the stuff of every fifteen-year old kid. He’d probably found the old empty diary lying around somewhere.
A few months later he’s on a ship. He’s left school, hopped on a freighter to sail the world. The pages fill with exotic port names, with moments of grace and litanies of darker solitudes. Storms and girls, drinking and stargazing. He writes of a red carnation and there’s a petal, dried but perfect, nestled between pages. A picture with his mom too. And his handwriting slowly changes, from the careful script of a schoolboy into the frenzied, ineligible scrawls that will define him.
The last page is dated November 1954. Just four quick years but the chasm is almost impossible to fathom. He’s now working for the Iron Ore, stationed far up north, feeling cold and alone. He doesn’t know it yet but he’ll be married eight years later. He’ll work in the steel business for the rest of his life. He’ll have two kids—a boy and a girl.
By January 1986, he’ll be gone.