I’m looking back at the lockdown letters I wrote for another angle on how we’ve weathered this storm. I’ve always written long letters and during lockdown I’ve written more than normal. They’re both creative outlet and connection, and there’s no time limit – work has dried up. So, forthwith, some letters from what should have been a much sillier month.

April 1st

To Left-Bank Books in St. Louis Thanks for being there. Usually Dad won’t let me buy him books because “I get ‘em at the library for free!” But his library cut off delivery this month, and he loves to read… You’d be amazed what he goes through with his low vision, to keep his nonagenarian brain challenged. I hope I have his enduring curiosity. 

I have to admit I went first to Amazon to find the books but guilt sent me to an indie. You had all but one of the books I wanted, and your prices are higher. But I tallied in keeping local businesses working, and that swung the calculation in your favor. Fingers crossed that you keep busy. I’ll try to remember it every time I’m tempted to go the easy way out with Amazon.

April 4th

To a friend who noted how coronavirus feeds the existing culture wars Trump fans the flames. I imagine the virus rolling sequentially through states like the South because some are insisting it’s a hoax or overblown. This divisive president has worsened it many-fold. How much sooner would we have reacted, how many fewer people would have died had Hillary Clinton been president? So I’m part of the culture wars too, because I see it as the administration’s earth-shattering failure.

But here’s a weird thing: literally the whole world is facing the same thing. Has anything ever united us before like this? Unprecedented isolation, misery, sadness… but something more too. Being connected makes us vulnerable. I don’t really know what I’m saying yet, it’s just burbling out. But there’s something in knowing so that all of us are going through the same: worry about our parents, about ourselves, the grocery store, the ennui. Yes, they’re negative emotions but isn’t there a proverb about shared troubles are halved; shared triumphs are doubled?

April 7th

To my writing group We took a long walk to the bakery just now and the Tunisian sun is relentless now that it’s spring! A handful of folks are on the beach.I find myself hoping for bad weather so people will stay indoors.The other day I took an early-morning photo of the fishermen out there in their dinghies, all “perfectly spaced” as if they were practicing social distancing.

April 14th

To my sister, who asked me to send her some new underwear People are on their balconies to cheer for the medical people! Being a paranoid, hypochondriac, nervous Nelly at home is no help, but sending underwear is actually doing something! I’m so proud of you. I’m scared too but I’m more proud, and I know you’ll be careful. So go out there and kick some coronavirus BUTT; I will backstop. I only wish I could send you a quiche.

April 26th

To a friend Days slide by and somehow we have plates of food made of Tunisian fruits and veg and grains – it turns out there is a cook in me after all. I always found the kitchen unwelcoming, but now I plan meals days in advance. We invent errands for a driver, Ibrahim, and keep “find flour” on the list each week. There hasn’t been a flake of flour on a store shelf here since March but Ibrahim… well, I am concerned he broke into a bakery to find me three kilos! Another missing item at stores was butter. But there was cream so I made some!

April 28th

To my writing group I can’t seem to sleep well at night. I’ve been having perimenopausal things going on for about a year now, and this month it’s insomnia and just feeling too warm. I had real hot flashes months ago and they were horrible! If they don’t come back, I’ll think I’ve gotten off easy.

Ramon’s busy with work – if they can ride the wave of coronavirus-friendly work they’ve created, his project might not get shut down. He proposes what can be done instead of lamenting what can’t. The strangest part of confinement is, even if I’m just watching videos or writing emails, I want him to stay in his room for the workday, and me in mine! I don’t want to be a jerk to him, and 99.9% of the time I am not, but my inner introvert panics to hear his footsteps coming toward my office.


This picture looks like Dad reminding me to keep it reasonably short. I’ll post more in a few days.


If you’ve read this far, you might also enjoy more posts of letters, for March, May, and June 2020, chronicling life and coronavirus and politics and relationships and, again, life.