January 1, 2020

Dear Diary – No, I can’t start that way. I haven’t started a journal since I was in the 3rd grade. That was the way that I started the entries back then. I came across that journal the other day. My handwriting was stick-straight and showed evidence of handwriting lessons and endless practice in school. I spoke of boys, times tables, and school lunches – all of which were gross. My life was so simple then. I really didn’t plan to write in a journal this year. Something about the year “2020” and the symmetry of the way it is written made me want to do it. This is a new decade; a new beginning! The reality is, midnight hit about three hours ago, and I can’t sleep a wink. No. It wasn’t because I partied hard. It wasn’t because I was dancing all night in my living room drinking champagne. It was because I am in the full-blown, sweaty, hormonal ravages of perimenopause. It’s either write in a journal or stare at a ceiling contemplating my age. Journal wins. 

January 2, 2020

To Whom it May Concern –Wow! That’s even worse! This is supposed to be the window to my soul not the form letter to my future self. Ugh!  I chose to start day two of 2020 with a bang. Even after little rest, I woke up, put on my most comfortable leggings and baggy sweatshirt, and went for a long walk. The crystal-clear air filled my lungs and exited as wispy fog. The bare trees swayed in the breeze and seemed to tell me, “Good job!” I would sleep great tonight. Fifteen hours later . . . I guess this will be my new time to write to myself.  Maybe I’ll write the next great American novel.

February 3 – February 20

My dearest future self (I kind of like the sound of that): The time is now 3:00 a.m. You will notice that I have clumped together a large number of days after a rather dry stretch.  The first reason is that I actually slept for a few days in a row in early January. Victory! Then, a rather bad stretch of luck settled in. You have heard the term “blue moon.” It means two full moons in one month. Being that I don’t usually sleep for two to three days before and after a full moon . . . I think you can see where this is going. That pretty much covered the remainder of January. It was a grumpy time; probably best not remembered. I apologize by proxy to the class of students whom I taught every day. When February arrived and the groundhog forecast an early spring, well, golly! I was ecstatic! My luck was turning. Then the rains came (that almost sounded like the beginning of some dismal French Revolution short story). It rained so much that the days blurred together into puddles, streams, and rivers and had no uniqueness of their own to write about. Tonight, I write before I must climb into a canoe to get the mail that I forgot to get earlier. Almost time for my alarm to go off for work – time to go to sleep!

March 1

My dearest future self: The rain finally stopped yesterday on leap day. We “leaped” into spring as the winter chill died away. With that came my brain’s need to create a harrowing nightmare just as I had fallen into a peaceful state of sleep. I dreamed that a monster was coming. It chased me around the coffee table and kept yelling at me about something it wanted from me. I woke in a cold sweat. What the heck could that be about? Maybe it was about the taco and two glasses of wine I had before bed. I should have known better. Maybe my luck will ACTUALLY change soon.

March 8

My dearest future self: I think I know what my dream was about last week. Today, I lived it in real time in the grocery store. That virus from overseas is apparently headed this way. Now, I’m not one to panic about real crises. I am firmly established as one who panics about very small and simple things that do not allow me to sleep – public speaking, forgetting to put on my deodorant in the summer, etc. The fact that I went to the grocery store today was not the result of my panicked state. It was purely coincidence. I reached gingerly for a package of my favorite toilet paper just as a shadow appeared behind me. A rather large, hairy arm reached around, and tried to snatch the toilet paper from my grasp. Future self, you will remember that we were trained in self-defense prior to this date, so that package was not going without a fight. I found myself running around my grocery cart with the TP-grabbing monster on my tail. My nightmare had come true! The monster wasn’t the virus. It was the grimacing, sweaty-faced woman who thought she could overpower this short girl. She. Was. Wrong.

March 13

My dearest future self: I snuck out of bed a bit earlier than usual. I was unable to go to sleep tonight. An emergency meeting called yesterday by my principal told us that we wouldn’t go back to school for a while after today. I am in shock, but I’m sure we will be back in a couple of weeks. This virus can’t be as bad as all that. I sat at home this afternoon confident that my meager stock of toilet paper (saved from the vicious monster) and my freezer full of meat, vegetables, and popsicles will help us through any problems. I’m not sure that sleep will come tonight.

March 24

My dearest future self: I wish that I could talk to you now, not in this form, but face-to-face. You know how this all turns out. You know when we will get back to “normal.” We won’t be going back to school for a much longer time. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing in this distance learning thing. My church is meeting on YouTube. Everyone in town has decided that they must purchase all the cheese puffs, potatoes, and milk in addition to all the toilet paper and paper towels. The world as I know it is losing its mind! Maybe everyone had already lost their minds. Maybe it takes a crisis to show the descent into madness as being complete. I have started sitting on my porch every night listening to the tree frogs and staring at the moon and stars. They are a constant that I can depend on these days. My prayer life has improved. There is a joke going around that introverts like me have been preparing for this our whole lives. I admit that I laughed at that one when I heard it, but now it feels like we are a bunch of school children getting ready to lose recess because we can’t follow directions. Loss of sleep is no longer blamed on my hormones.

March 29

My dearest future self: I had to leave the house today to get “essentials” (that’s what they call groceries nowadays). I realize that this little portion of my world has finally become a completely new place. I live in the south. This is the place where everybody smiles and says “Hello” whether you know the person or not.  These behaviors have now disappeared in a matter of days.  My trip to the grocery store felt like I was in some alien place like Mars, Venus, or New Jersey. Everyone turned away as they approached each other. Eyes were averted and bodies jerked to the side to face the shelves. Even from afar, smiles were replaced with looks that are usually reserved for children who have taken a cookie from the pantry before supper – wide-eyed horror. I held my breath like I was diving into a pool as I quickly grabbed a bag of apples nearly eight feet away from the nearest patron. I tried to remain casual, but every time I touched anything, I imagined tiny viruses jumping up my arms and invading my lungs. I swear that the poor cashier was turning blue from holding her breath as I checked out. I stood back as far as I could and tried to look as healthy as possible. This will be my last trip to the store for a while Sleep will continue to evade me. I think I need to get up and go douse myself in rubbing alcohol.

April 1

My dearest future self: The governor told us today that by Friday, we will have to remain in our houses most of the time. April Fools!!!!???  No. Really. This pandemic is getting real. Sometimes my lungs feel like they are full of lead, not because I am sick but because I am anxious. I walk in the cemetery every day because I can “social distance” and because no one there is able to talk about the virus. I can’t focus on the reality in the world too much. My prayer life continues to get stronger. My ability to manage my students’ education online continues to grow. My napping and drinking schedules grow more and more consistent. These days, it seems as if we are all characters in some B-grade horror/action movie. These quiet times at night are my solace. 

April 3

My dearest future self: I have decided that I won’t write again for a while after tonight. It would be unfair to bore you. Instead, I will write this entry to remind you of your riveting life from this period. Today, I woke up after a restful two hours of sleep. I ate breakfast while I watched a rerun of some show I’ve seen a thousand times. I sipped my coffee, worked on my computer, and warmed up my cold coffee (repeat this routine 5 more times). I finally realized that I still had on my pajamas around 3:00, changed into leggings and a t-shirt, and drove to the cemetery to walk. I walked until my nerves seemed settled, drove home, ate some lunch, worked some more, took a nap, read a book, wrote a poem, threw away the terrible poem, ate a snack, checked the time, drank a glass of wine, cooked supper, watched 3.5 minutes of the news before I felt sick to my stomach, took a shower, went to bed, and then started to write in my journal.  It is an almost certainty that my days will continue to look like this for a while. I will write again when the movie is over. It’s time to stare at the ceiling and think about my age.

April 04, 2020 01:51

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.