#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 74
The idea of a collection of daily words describing how you felt for 30 days of social distancing and isolation feels really meaningful to me and something that I think I’d really appreciate having in 10 years. Think outside the box of what you might typically write!— NaNoWriMo (@NaNoWriMo) March 31, 2020
Shortly after I awake, my phone rings. ‘It’ll be the GP,’ I tell my partner. ‘And of course I already feel way more rested today,’ I joke.
I walk out of the bedroom into the study and pick up the call.
‘Is this Allysse?’
‘Yes, yes it is.’
‘I’m calling from X medical centre. You got in touch regarding some headaches.’
‘I did yes. Thanks for calling back.’
We go through my answers on the form, the GP clarifying a few points. I stress the link I believe exists with my hormones but the GP ignores most of this sticking to the diagnoses of tensions headaches. I nod along their recommendations, jotting down what they say at the same time. Five minutes later, I am back in bed with my partner.
‘They think it’s probably just a tension headaches. Also the weather is apparently stopping people from sleeping well at the moment,’ I add.
She looks at me quizzically. ‘No, no mentions of hormones,’ I comment and shrug my shoulders. ‘I’m already feeling better now but we’ll see how it goes.’ I pick up a magazine laying at the side of the bed and add ‘I’m going to have a mostly screen free day I think.’
The magazine read, I walk to the study and sit down to write letters. I grab some paper from the bookcase, refill my fountain pen, and begin to write. First I write to my nephew, his letter sprawled on the desk by my side. The blue ink, so familiar from my own school days, is sprawling across the pages. Each letter is well defined with just a hint of change, my nephew finding his own hand away from calligraphic letters he was taught to use a couple of years ago.
I apply my own handwriting more than I would with anybody else. I keep my sentences simple and short, my days and activities reduced to facts to be shared. I answer his questions, ask some more, and slide a few leaves picked up in the arboretum a few days earlier. I cannot visit him but I can share more than words with him, my world seeping into his via those leaves.
I let the ink dry on the final page before folding the paper carefully and sliding it into an envelope. Next, I turn my attention to my grand mother. I read through her card once more, the words difficult to make out. While my nephew’s words are round, my grand mother’s ones are sharp and straight, lines merging into one another, letters becoming one long tooth waved shape.
She tells me about her garden and the fields that are drying under all the sun. She doesn’t tell me about her though, she never does. I reply by telling her stories of my garden and what I’m doing during this lockdown. I include a few leaves I have picked in Westonbirt Arboretum hoping she will enjoy them and maybe travel for a moment to a place of Japanese maples.
Next, I write to my uncle. I tell him about how I use his old film camera and what I’ve been up to photographically. I then ask him about our family. A few years ago, he did a lot of research into our family history. I nodded at his stories then, not really caring about what he had to say. But now I do. I have spent so much time thinking about the past, I want to know more about it. I want to dig deeper than my memories, frail and unreliable. I want to explore further than the albums of photographs my mom brought back to me in December.
I am unsure why I want to know. This is a question for later.
I write to my father too. I am still angry at him but I have to be a good daughter. I haven’t texted him much during this lockdown out of laziness and out of spite. He is sliding back into his old ways, pushing me and my siblings down the pedestal of his family, raising instead his new partner and her family to the place we used to be. I hope my words laid on paper will be enough to make him forget how little I have written to him those past months. At the end, I ask him to about his family. I can’t even name all of his brothers and sisters, our visits to them growing scarce before I was even ten years old.
The letters finished, I seal them and write the addresses on the envelopes. I eat a quick lunch and walk out of the house, envelopes and camera in hand. I drop the envelopes into the bright red Royal Mail letter box and walk on to the brook leading to the nature reserve. I follow it for a while and escape out of the nature reserve towards the football fields. Children are playing a makeshift game of cricket while adults sit on blankets surrounded by bottles of wines and beers. Music is blaring from a speaker, the bass loud and invading. I hurry my steps and disappear into a residential streets. I follow it to the end and carry on into an alleyway I have never explored. It winds itself behind houses, boundary walls too tall for me to glance into private gardens. When I emerge back into residential streets I have no idea where I am. Houses are different here, the red brick replaced by prickly white walls. I glance to the left and right before crossing the street. I follow it around a bend, not caring that this is new to me territory. I have no idea where I am and no data or allowance on my phone to use Google Maps or call my partner. I do not care. I have only been gone for an hour, I cannot have gone too far. I carry on walking, past deserted drives and closed doors. Every now and again, music drifts through an open window, laughter echoes from unseen gardens, a lone car passes by.
I turn a corner and see a man sitting in the front garden of his house. He is the first person I have seen in twenty minutes. For a brief instant our eyes lock and we do not move, each caught in a moment of peace we thought our own. I smile and raises a hand in silence. He nods, smiles back, and raises a bottle of beer to me. My smile widens. We hold our gaze for a second longer. I walk on, past quiet houses and silent cars. At the end of the road I see a sign for Savages Woods. I know where those are in relation to my home. I follow the signs until they become unnecessary, my surroundings familiar again, and head home.