In May 2020, I was asked to write a journal entry for my creative writing class.

In December 2020, I received the news that my piece was going to be published in Alexandra Zapruder’s Dispatches from Quarantine Gallery.

In March 2021, I joined a zoom call with NPR producer Phil Harrell to record an excerpt of my writing to be used in a segment on the project.

I am so thankful for this opportunity that allowed me to fall in love with writing again.

Read my journal entry below or by clicking on the link to the Dispatches website.

May 7th, 2020

Dear Corona,

I should have started a diary at the beginning. I meant to, I swear! But the idea of writing it down to be preserved for the future made it too real. I keep contemplating the future, wondering if we’ll even have one. Even by the end of February, this virus seemed like something that wasn’t real, it couldn’t touch our perfect world. Then our track season started, and I was in my own little bubble, oblivious to all the chaos outside of our school.

Covid-19 started to slowly penetrate my bubble more and more often. It was the only thing on the news, constantly haunting my Twitter feed, and filling my Instagram with various memes. I had a friend who went on vacation to Chad, Africa for a month to visit his family. When he came back, they didn’t scan him at the airport nor did he self-quarantine. That’s when I started to realize how bad this was going to get. No one was being careful and while he never ended up getting sick, I stayed up late wondering who else did because of careless mistakes.

A few days later, another friend returned from a week-long cruise. I keep having flashbacks to that conversation, the three of us in our little honors pre-calculus study group sitting on the desks at the beginning of class. The girl who was on the cruise had no idea how crazy things were. I remember her laughing at our concern and frequent hand-washing. “Aren’t there only, like, nineteen cases in the United States?” she insisted. We had to explain to her that there were not only hundreds across the country, but there were also about twenty in our state, some just a couple towns away.

March 12th was the last “normal” day. In our homeroom, we envied the schools that got to miss school because a student caught the virus. The theatre kids in the row of seats behind me were gossiping about the backstage drama that came along with opening night jitters. At track practice we laughed as if the world wasn’t collapsing around us, running in the wind preparing for our first race, one we never got to have. Someone stole my favorite jacket during our run. I will never forget that unimportant detail. It was bright orange, my friends called me a traffic cone when I wore it.

When I came in the door after walking home from practice, everything changed. My mom was at Giant, frantically trying to get a roll of toilet paper as we were genuinely out. My dad refused to “stockpile” and now we were caught in this mess. My dad begged me not to usher at the school musical that night. I insisted on going. I handed programs to about 200 people that night, from all over the county, some from across the state. I held my breath the whole time.

That fateful Friday was a blur. Friday the thirteenth, how ironic. In French class, we panicked as more and more of our activities were being canceled every minute. Then the principal came on the loudspeaker and cheers erupted. School was canceled for the next week. We didn’t even say goodbye. It felt like a vacation. A few minutes later, at the start of track practice, the governor announced the statewide school closure for the next two weeks. This time we realized it was bad. We hugged each other, sitting on cold concrete. Coach collected our cell numbers on his barely functional phone and had us teach him how to create a group chat. That was it. That was the end of all things “normal.”

Here we are now, almost two months later, and I’m really tired of the world ending. No one knows what’s going to happen. I know it’s dumb to be focused on hoping we get to go back to school in the fall and have a cross country season when thousands of people are dying. And I know things will be different when we go back. Maybe masks will become socially demanded in public forever, or I’ll never be able to high-five a friend again. My theory is that once we reach a final “new normal.” at school dances in the future, the chaperones will be saying, “save room for Corona” instead of “save room for Jesus” and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

My friend Ryan told me, “Rain is like a pandemic. If you’re not in the mood for it, you gotta just stay inside.” I can’t stay inside. I’m on the streets, running every chance I get. I can think of one good thing about this pandemic, though. I’ve been conditioned to stop touching my face, so now I can wear mascara without smudging it. Isn’t it funny? I never wore makeup to school before, so why am I dabbing on lipstick and applying mascara to take out the garbage cans on trash day? At first it was exciting to be living through history, but is this really living? I hope we learn from this. I hope the world becomes a better place. I hope that’s not too much to ask.