A couple weeks ago, we were exploring the numerous and mysterious cupboards and cabinets of our new home, the Writing House, when we (my housemates and I) discovered a diary- it’s cover featuring the ever charming compilation of rainbow hearts, stars, and flowers dancing around a cowboy puppy riding a majestic rainbow horse that seemed to epitomize the early 2000’s. We began thumbing through the diary, entries sprawling across the pages in multi colored gel pens, entering into the world of Sophie, it’s author, and the adventures of her sophomore year of high school in 2001-02.
Lots of, “Trevor called me back,” and, “Guess who emailed me today? (it was Trevor!),” and “I just wish it would rain already” and “Noodle and I went to the mall today!”
The entries continued like this, hilarious and tangential musings, mostly about boys and love, and Trevor, specifically. My housemate Cam took the diary with her, and over the next few days went down the rabbit hole trying to track down it’s owner. Research, sleuthing and Facebook stalking revealed that her name was Sophie, she was from Portland, Ore., she was a writer, and she must have graduated from Whitman in 2008.
In the days following, we continued to joke and read pages of her diary, until one night, after dinner I heard excited screams coming from downstairs- “It’s her, it’s her, it’s gotta be her!
We gathered at the bottom of the stairs where Cam relayed the news that the woman in the poster advertising the first author in the upcoming Visiting Writers Reading Series had a striking resemblance to a photo on a page of the diary- a blond girl with glasses captioned, “Sophie: looking disgustingly hot, like always”.
The woman in the poster had bleached blond hair and heavy glasses. And her name was Sophie Johnson. She had just written a book about love, she was a Whitman alum, and she graduated in 2008. (Whoa. right?)
Long story short, we reached out to her via email (she was incredibly surprised and excited) and she agreed to appear at our event after her reading to read her diary, answer our questions, chat and (most importantly) fill us in on what happened to Trevor.
It was incredible. Sophie was standing on the podium in Hunter, wearing an outrageous floral dress, and opened with a powerpoint presentation asking funny questions and mentioning names of the lovers that we had read about in her diary (causing us all to laugh just a little too loudly and smirk at each other across our seats). She was so real, funny, honest and vulnerable, and her book was wonderful as well- “Many Love- a graphic memoir about polyamory and what it means to love the people in your life.” (Here’s a link- highly recommend checking it out.)
She came home with us afterward, and we sat on the couch and chatted about the days she lived in the Writing House and her memories of Whitman, until people began to show up for the event.
I was impressed by the turnout. Our living room was packed with people, laughing together as Sophie told stories and animatedly read from her diary. It was so fun and serendipitous and really made me stop and think about how crazy it was that this had come together. The stars had aligned. The world is really so small (in the best way), and Whitman was instrumental in that act of connecting people and bringing them together. We definitely would not have ended up packed into the living room with Sophie playing the piano and singing a song she wrote for her high school musical, “Teenager,” with spirit, everyone dissolving into fits of laughter, had that link not brought us all together.