For most of my life I wrote using a pencil. The idea of not being able to erase and having to mark up my pages with scribbles and lines wherever there was an error didn't sit well with me. No matter what it was for, I wrote deliberately with a kind of key performance indicator in mind: that if it were to be found by a stranger and looked upon, that they wouldn't immediately throw it into the trash. I always kept stock of expensive Japanese erasers.
Jamieson, who I met my first year of college never wrote using a pencil. In fact, the only pencils he owned were the #2 HB pens he kept for those bubble-sheet exams.
Unlike myself, Jamieson wrote in a mad scramble. He said he didn't have time to erase mistakes while carrying a train of thought. He wrote as quick as possible and never organized his notebooks. Once they began to clutter his desk he chucked them casually into a giant recycling bin that the dorm offered us in the main lobby. One time, out of curiosity, I had secretly went back to grab one of his notebooks.
To me -- someone obsessed with collecting things and only creating things that I'd be willing to keep for a significant time even if it dealt with the most trivial such as a memo, writing using a pen was out of the picture.
Jamieson reasoned that his reason for writing was to get his ideas out. Not out to other people but to himself. And from what I could discern, he never looked at what he wrote after scribbling it on, yet he never had the reason to because he never forgot.
My abysmal memory fostered within me a compulsion to write everything down and keep it organized. Jamieson joked that I was a computer; one day as the evening sun sat low and mellow, I stared for a longer time than I should have at my system of boxes housing labeled notebooks and folders. I tried to think of what Jamieson might be, if I were a computer.
Our opposite approach to writing served an accurate indicator to our personalities at large. He carried his mind on his sleeve, whereas I made sure to present myself in a way that others would consider proper. I guess it would be accurate to say that I erased parts of myself while Jamieson stomped into a room with all his errors blaring out in black & blue, some of the ink still wet to the touch.
We were an odd pair to anyone who learned of our friendship. We were not just friends, but close ones in fact. His friends thought I was a dweeb, and mine found him an arrogant, condescending asshole. At the time, I had thought that my friends were choosing not to see in Jamieson what I saw. But now in retrospect, I am more confident that having lived for so long a particular way their perspectives had calcified and they could not see.
The key to what I saw in Jamieson is most easily seen in the notebooks he created. The content within them was mostly the narcissistic meanderings of an eighteen year old manchild. But also within that was brilliance. The kind that I would have once written but erased out of low confidence, then eventually forgotten.
Somewhere along the years, I stopped keeping such meticulous notes of everything. And somewhere along that time, I've thrown away my old system of storing all the documents I've created.
The only thing from that era that remains is that one notebook I secretly fished out of the recycling bin.