A Day of Days
You wake. Your cell phone screen tells you the time and more importantly the day. Monday and Friday bear a striking similarity though you don't understand why. In the kitchen you drink coffee, play an online word game with friends and decide if you'll watch the morning news or an episode of Leave it to Beaver. On the days the choice is impossible, you opt for a wildcard like the police forensics show where murderers are captured because of fingernail clippings. One morning a story about the coronavirus triggers memories of your old Smith Corona typewriter. You remember its hard, blue case, the limp stories you wrote, painting your mistakes with white-out and you notice how lately your thoughts collide like bumper cars.
When your mother calls, she asks, "What are you doing today?" Once again you remind her about the quarantine. A part of you envies her ability to forget the pandemic: The updates, the deaths, the elongated faces of news anchors reporting from their homes, the briefings from the President and the subsequent corrections from doctors, the shortages, the protests, the fear.
"The Depression was worse," your mother decides. "Nana and I stood in line to get food."
You exercise. Grateful your condo building has a fitness room because even though it's April the forty degree morning temperatures in Wisconsin make walking outside a punishment, though you have, a couple of times, bundled yourself in winter sweats, turtle neck, and a hooded puffy jacket then gone outside, hands jammed in your pockets. In the park you meet other walkers. They flinch as you approach then veer off like cars taking an exit ramp.
You're at war with lists. You used to love them. They were the GPS for your daily life. But now they've changed. Become demanding and noisy. They shout, "Do this today! You have time. Failure, failure, failure."
Bored, you try on a favorite swimsuit, the red one with cheerful golden splashes, that remind you of sunny beaches and flights without masks or the shrinking dread you feel when you meet people in the hallways, especially young people who can unknowingly infect seniors, like you, the group more likely to catch the coronavirus but not survive it. Anyway, the swimsuit fits like a vise that turns your breathing into choppy puffs, and the golden splashes stretch around your hips, reminding you of the playtex girdle your mother forced the twelve year old you to wear after your hips rounded.
"She gets it honestly," your grandmother said about your full hips. "My mother had curvy, African hips. Can't hide them, might as well show them."
But for years you hid your hips under girdles and pleated jackets and wished for narrow television hips you'll never have. Then one day while you binge on a recently discovered show with a feisty character who reminds you of your grandmother, you wonder what she would have thought about the coronavirus. Or about you. And you remember what she said, Can't hide them, might as well show them. Because life is