Typically, I don’t journal. But I love beautiful journals and notebooks, nonetheless.  The graphic has to sweep me off my feet. The paper has to feel good against the glide of my hand and the tip of the pen. The size and thickness have to be just right and in almost all cases, it must have a front pocket or pouch to collect things in. My rigorous searches to find these unicorns often don’t bare fruit.

Once, my failed attempts at finding a notebook suitable for this Goldilocks reached such a plateau that I reached out to a company I had purchased from before (at Target) but couldn't find again. They were so thrilled with the degree to which I pursued them (which is to say that I emailed to inquire about where I could purchase their products) and the next thing I knew a giant box arrived on my doorstep. It was filled with a beautiful collection: a journal, a spiral notebook (with pocket), a decorative folder, a 3-ring binder with the most gorgeous dividers, and a zippered pencil case. Plus a thank-you note. I promptly sent one back.  

Mostly I make lists and notes in my notebooks. It doesn’t make much sense that I don’t journal. It’s definitely my kind of thing to do. Sometimes I wonder if I will find that I love it so much that I can’t stop. But I have a strange relationship with writing. Lately, it’s on an upswing though.

This is good news since I am headed to Cuba for a (U.S. government-approved) People-to-People Cultural Exchange, and in so doing am required to keep a journal detailing my experiences on the trip. It is further noted that I am required to keep the journal for at least five years—as if I would toss such a treasure overboard after that.   

Recently, while enjoying an urban excursion to Ybor City in Tampa (which has a rich Cuban connection) with my friend James, I found theeeeee journal for the Cuba trip. It called out to me in all its sunshine-yellow glory at a store called Agora. It does not have a pocket but it is lightweight and fashioned from handmade paper with a vivid burst of red, white and green on the front and back covers.

Oh, how I long to reach Havana and to have my senses filled with the sights, sounds and flavor. How I long to flip open the cover to my journal’s first page to record the memories. 


Leslie Joy illustrated by Becca Barton