I read the Diary of Anne Frank when I was pretty young. It was sort of life changing. When I read that book and understood what it actually was — a little girl’s scribbles of her day to day — I became obsessed with writing down everything. I felt the need to document everything that happened in my life. Whether it was in a diary, in a letter, a note, or a poem, it didn’t matter as long as I was transcribing everything that happened.
Everything seemed important, or, more precisely, everything seemed potentially important. I’d tell myself that I didn’t know what was history and what wasn’t. Who’s to say that documenting the summer entertainment of a young girl in her backyard pool wouldn’t be a thing of wonder to some future archaologist who discovered my documentation? Did the dinosaurs know that their movements and livelihoods would be a thing of awe and not present forever?
As the years went on and technology actually began to transform the world, communication, and entertainment I loved, it began to seem as though my instincts were correct — my ordinary might one day be extraordinary. When the world flipped inside out with things like school shootings, terrorism, and climate change again I felt that the little things I took for granted were exactly things that might still require reflecting upon as we moved into so many worlds separated from those normalcies.
I kept writing. I kept documenting. I kept thinking about Anne Frank, what she was able to show us all about a time unthinkable. Forever writing knowing that there was something so important about that act alone.
Then the world stopped.
I am undeniably living in a place of history as Anne once did. I am not hiding in an attic, but I am sheltering in my home, with my family, not hiding from Nazis, but from a disease. We creep through the streets not knowing if we want to see neighbors or hide from them. We avoid stores because they are gathering spaces where any other human could be harboring the enemy. This is a world, a time, an existence that requires some sort of documentation. THIS is the time I have prepared for my entire life. This happens also to be the moment that I don’t want to regale you with all of the details of what is going on. Broad strokes and impressions are okay, but to delve deeper feels a disease in and of itself. Right now I need to focus on survival of my sanity which is different than the type of survival Anne worried about, but perhaps just as important when I have a child to care for. A child who I have shielded from the horror that stalks us or the panic that surrounds us.
Ohhhhhh… that’s it isn’t it? Anne was a child! She could write the story in a way none of the grown ups could. Adulting is hard. We spend our whole childhood playing at important things, imagining we can only make them greater as we grow, but the adulting is stifling!
Dear Anne, my darling childhood role model, I write all this to say I am sorry I have lived nearly three of your lifetimes and can not deliver even a third of what you did. However, with this discovery I now wait in great anticipation of what the children are writing today.