By now it must be evident to you that I’m terrible at keeping a journal. If the utterly illegible (even to me) handwriting didn’t give it away then surely the blank pages between entries which are left for me to “go back and fill in later when I have time” will confirm that I was never destined to be any kind of historian. I have several diaries from my teenage years that are 85% blank; only the first few pages are filled with the scribblings of my lovelorn, agitated eighth grade self. I read them from time to time and thank my lucky stars that I stopped after only a few entries. They’re that lame.
I must have inherited my sloppy diary habits from my mother because the baby book in which she recorded all sorts of useful information about me such as my birth weight, height and bowel activities is pretty chock full of information for the first six months of my life before trailing off into…….nothing. You can track her pregnancy with my younger brother by how infrequent and cryptic her entries gradually became until he was born when I was 17 months old. The pages go blank after that. There is no baby book for my brother. Or for my three younger sisters.
It must impress you, Pandiary dearest, that, for a person who is so bad at journaling, I have managed to write an entry almost every day between March and July of this year (you know which year I mean, don’t make me spell it out). Sure my handwriting has become even more illegible in my old age which might make it difficult for my family and I to gather round the campfire many years from now and reminisce over my insights into toilet paper, Corona beer jokes and distance learning [shudder shudder], but that won’t be an issue since my phone is bursting with screenshots of memes and tweets from this time as well.
I’m proud of myself for having the foresight to document this surreal moment in our lives. And for sticking with it….at least until July because that’s when life seemed to have settled into its new normal and I didn’t think there’d be any more pandemic-related news that would be worth writing about. I know, ha ha, good one, right?
I’m also rather pleased with myself for cleverly naming you “Pandiary”, short for ‘Pandemic Diary”, of course. Nothing like a cute name to take the edge off of living through the apocalypse, eh? (I guess I’m Canadian now….)
It seems like only yesterday that I first opened your Moleskine red, faux leather cover to the title page, and wrote my name, your name and the subtitle: “2020- not what we thought it would be”. That was March 19, remember? That was the beginning of lockdown here in the UK and we thought it would last for a few weeks. Again, ha ha ha ha ha ha.
You were part of a birthday gift from my thoughtful husband, ever the supporter of my writing ambitions. I figured I’d get around to putting you to use when I got through the many other notebooks I own (when you tell people that you’re a writer, you get a lot of notebooks as gifts), but when the idea of documenting pandemic life in our household gripped me I knew which notebook I wanted to use.
You, Pandiary. Only your compact 5”x8” frame with rounded edges and thread-bound, creamy, lined paper would do. It took me months to discover your hidden treasure- an expandable pocket in your inside back cover which now safely holds all of our NHS Covid Test receipt cards (to remember the good times we had gagging ourselves with giant Q-tips in our car) and a receipt from Home Goods, our very first retail outing once the lockdown had been eased. Don’t worry, I won’t turn you into a scrap book. I’d never cheapen you that way. You just hold on to my mementos for as long as I need you to.
I never thought I’d fill even half of your 240 acid-free pages, my sweet Pandiary. But as the virus rages on and second lockdowns come into effect, you’re almost full and there’s still so much more to write down. Plus, you’re probably ready for a break from the relentless, frantic scratching of my fountain pen.
Lucky for you, last year’s birthday gift also included your sister whose plastic shrink wrap I will peel away to reveal a fresh, new black faux leather cover which I will open to the title page, inscribe her name- I’m considering “Pandiarya” but am open to suggestions- and she will pick up where you and I left off.