3 March 2020
I don’t exactly know what to write here. I’ve kept journals before, but when I look back on them, they’re all so embarrassing. I’m going to put this away for a few days; see what happens next.
9 March 2020
My therapist says I need an outlet, a place to put my feelings. I don’t know if I feel safe here yet.
18 March 2020
Well, you know what we’re in the midst of. It’s a pandemic, for sure. I’d better get back to my online homework. Not great for senior year, but I wasn’t looking forward to prom, anyway.
25 December 2020
I tore out all the pandemic pages. They were too sad, too gross. I didn’t even talk to friends on the phone, like everyone else. I guess I didn’t really have any friends. College is online for now. Good thing, because I’ve gained a lot of weight these past few months.
31 December 2020
Now both my mom and my therapist say I need to try harder. So here’s me again, trying harder. I don’t want to take the pills, but maybe they’ll help. Maybe at least I’ll get enough energy to exercise again.
15 February 2021
I thought college would be more fun, now that we’re allowed to move into dorm rooms again. My mom wonders if being more independent will help me, but it’s just a change of scenery. At least I have to walk to class now, see people on the quad and wave politely. That helps, a bit.
21 March 2021
A year ago were were going into lockdown. The sun is in my eyes as I try to write in this journal. I remember when the sun felt both too close and too distant. I’d wanted to go outside, but there were so many people in the parks. So many people still on the beaches—stupid spring breakers.
22 March 2021
Thousands upon thousands. I never got it, never got tested, but always suspected I was a carrier. People avoided me even before the pandemic—or did I avoid them?
23 March 2021
I can’t manage more than a line or two here, but at least I’m writing more often now. We’re also doing poetry in my intro to lit class this semester. Why does everyone think poetry has to rhyme?
24 March 2021
My professor likes to spell rhyme like “rime.” He says it’s the old-fashioned way, and he is old. Eighty-two if he’s a day, but I still see him running on campus. He’s training for the annual fun run in May, to raise money for local hospitals, who are still short on supplies from the pandemic.
25 March 2021
Everyone says the pandemic is over—but why do I feel like it will never end?
26 March 2021
There was a sickness in me before there was a sickness in the world.
It lay, waiting, wanting an outlet, a purpose: this journal and its pages.
But these pages can’t comfort me. A poem about a poem about a poem.
Read them, in their illness, in your illness, and you’ll find no real cure.
16 November 2021
I tore out all the poetry pages. Well, most of them. Too embarrassing. Some of them I made into paper planes and flew them off the roof of my dorm. Others I made into paper boats and threw them in the river.
22 December 2021
Holiday break. Back in my own room. Feels different, but the same. Mom clings, pets me like a lost puppy. She’s baking again, frenzied. She says she’ll freeze some treats for me, for the dorm. I remind her that my freezer in my mini-fridge is the size of a breadbox.
25 January 2022
We used to play that question game, me and my brother, on long car rides to family reunions. I think my mother thinks my sadness comes from the accident, the day we lost him forever, but she’s wrong. An accident is just an accident. I know that now.
26 January 2022
My mother cried, again, when I left for school. You think she’d get used to me packing up and shipping off every semester. I know I am her only child, but being home with her suffocates me. Don’t tell her, but I’m not coming home for summer. I got a job in the research lab, and it’s work I want to do. We’ll be monitoring brain waves in autistic children—seeing what stimulates them.
27 January 2022
My brother was probably autistic, but never diagnosed. My mother didn’t believe in doctors until after he died. Then I had to go see all the doctors. Behavioral therapists for my enduring sadness, psychiatrists for my meds, even the ancient family practitioner for my unexplained weight gain.
28 January 2022
I remember that doctor’s office. One of those huge houses on the town square, renovated into office space. The floorboards bent and squeaked when I walked across them to the receptionist. “Name?” she’d asked, and mother had answered for me. My mother gave them our last name, then my first, but when I heard her say my name, it was like she was saying my brother’s again. That night in the emergency room, after the bike wreck. He never could stand to wear a helmet.
29 January 2022
I want to tell that story, but I’m not going to tell it again. I told it during the pandemic; I told it in the poetry. It’s time to look forward.
14 February 2022
I got a valentine today, from the girl down the hall. It was a friendly thing, all hearts and frills. She probably sent it as some sorority-sister do-gooder outreach. Maybe I’ll say hello, anyway.
15 February 2022
I found out the girl down the hall and I have the same major, and we’re going to work on the same study together this summer.
16 February 2022
The girl asked me along for her sorority’s movie night. Her name is Maria. I want to tell her my brother’s name was Mario, but I can’t. Not yet.
17 February 2022
I don’t like her “sisters” much, but I do like Maria. Already she’s like a sister to me—or more.
18 March 2022
I tore out all Maria’s personal pages, gave them to her. She smiled and told me she’d read them after we went to the dance. “No,” I said, because I wanted to stay in her dorm room afterward, and I knew I’d die of embarrassment, the good kind, if she read them aloud with both of us there. Later, staring at her ceiling, I said, “Do you realize it’s been two years since quarantine?” and she said, “Do you realize it’s been two months since I first saw you at the start of the semester?” “Both feel like forever ago,” I wanted to say, but didn’t. I just held her hand, and she held mine.