A letter to my pre-pandemic self

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Dear February Jill,

July Jill here. You can call me JJ or J Square or Double J for short. Oh hey – you no longer have that aversion to campy nicknames. Or, maybe you do but your IDGAF about things threshold is at an all-time low. Like…really low. Yep. Waaaay down there. And, by the way, you still hate people who butcher words by adding multiple extra vowels. I just wanted to mess with you a little because if you can’t laugh, then…? Well, you know. 

This tee shirt from Zulilly sums up how I feel a lot of the time.

Anyway, February Jill. I’ve got some great news. And then some bad news. But then after the bad news, I’ll have more good news. Yay!

I am picturing you making that scrunched up face you make when you’re trying to place a phrase. And, I am picturing your face when the light bulb comes on and you realize I’m describing a phrase you learned – and used often – from your management days in the military: Shit Sandwich. Build them up then deliver the gut punch. After you’ve made your point or your correction or lowered the boom or whatever, you build them up again. End the conversation on a positive and uplifting note so they don’t shank you in the back on your way out.

Yeah…that’s kind of what we’ve got going on here. 

So…the good news. You’re still alive in July. I know how you like to obsess about various malignancies and brain tumors and car accidents during the wee hours of the morning when you can’t sleep. See? Starting off GREAT! I mean…breathing is winning, right?

Oh, and some more good news: You’re SKINNY. Well…that might be stretching things just a smidge but remember how you look at pictures of yourself in your twenties and shake your head because you didn’t realize how rad your body was? I know you do. So, with that frame of reference, February Jill, you don’t look too bad. Yeah, I see that 10 pounds you need to lose but you’ve still got your foot – and the rest of you – in the misses sizes. While plus sizes are still an option, your body is still mainstream, so take a look at yourself and enjoy it.

Remember that park you kept saying we need to go to? Well, now you know it like the back of your hand.

I guess that sounded kind of ominous, huh? 

So, that’s a pretty slick transition into the bad news. And if least not slick, then at least you know WE’RE TRANSITIONING NOW. I guess all those editors who told us we needed to strengthen those transitions were on to something, huh? Who knew?

July Jill is going to weigh more than February Jill. At least, we’re assuming because you haven’t stepped on the scale. Yay for you learning what your triggers are and staying off that bad boy! Your jeans still fit but they’re a little snug. More than the weight gain, your body is kind of…well, let’s just come out with it. Lumpy. Lumpy is a good word. Your bras are starting to feel tight and you avoid looking at yourself in the mirror after you get out of the shower. You grab a towel and dry off in the bedroom. 

I wish the extra 10 (yep, we're going to pretend it's 10) pounds would go away but I do not regret learning to make these biscuits.

You will not deal with quarantine well…I wonder if it’s wise to tell you that now or let you skip along with the notion that it will be so great. And then if not so great, then a lot of we got this. And then nothing I can’t handle on a temporary basis. It will barrel downhill from there.

You’re going to have a meltdown in front of your kids in May. You’ll throw a salad at one of your kids and you’ll leave the house for the afternoon. You’ll drive around and eat french fries from a drive through that do not make you feel better, which will make you really question whether or not you're losing it because…well, FRENCH FRIES.

There are miles of beautiful trails near my house. I knew about some of them but others were a big surprise.

You’ll come home and cry for almost 36 hours straight. You’ll be afraid you won’t be able to stop and you’ll Google the term “nervous breakdown” and learn people don’t really use that term anymore. You feel somewhat reassured by what you read about depressive episodes. Life will slowly go back to normal – whatever that means – and your family will look at you with wary eyes for a while. 

You’ll feel a loss of yourself. You’ll feel like everything that’s familiar and everything that defines you is gone. You’ll grow to hate looking at yourself in the mirror and you’ll realize how high maintenance you are. You’ll see your natural hair color for the first time in…well, neither of us remember how long ago that was.

My kids have become expert rock skippers.

All those trips you were going to go on? They’ll be cancelled one by one. You’ll cry every time something gets crossed off your calendar. You’ll understand why but it still bothers you. No one will understand when you try to explain this.

July Jill is going to be way more domestic than February Jill. You’re sort of a cross between Martha Stewart and a hippie who uses terms like “urban farmer.” You’re going to be an expert at homemade, all-natural baked goods and organic pesticides. You almost get backyard chickens but you hang on to that glimmer of hope of post-COVID travel and decide not to, but you know where to buy pullets in your area. And, also what a pullet is. 

July Jill is going to know where all the hiking trails are within a 50-mile radius of your house. You don’t know there’s a primitive trail minutes from where you live, but you will. Also? Your kids will love your biweekly hikes. Just not at the same time. One will always be pouting or crying or hot or hungry. 

You’ll start to realize the things you thought were important maybe weren’t important. You’ll eschew social media – yes, really! – and you’ll turn toward more creative pursuits. Mostly because social media is toxic but also because you’ll find (and remember) other things you like to do. You will write meaningful things. You will paint rocks and make your own cleaning solutions. 

Getting ready to release my creation, Metallic Gold Snake Head, into the wild.

I swear I’m not making this stuff up.

You’ll come out of this…different. Heavier, although not that upset about being a little fluffier around the midsection. You know where the gym is and it will probably be safe to go there soon enough, whatever safe means anymore. The quarantine baking spree is on a decline. There’s only so many homemade pretzels your family can take. Ha ha that’s a total lie but it’s time for treat day to stop being every day. 

Pajamas all day? No problem! Wednesday afternoon movies? Why not?

OK, so to recap. Bummer about the weight gain. I mean…I’m not sure what you expected with 3x weekly bread baking, homemade pizza, homemade pretzels and all those late night snacks. Hopefully the salad throwing doesn’t scar your middle child for life and that you are more tuned in to your emotions and do something or ask for help before things escalate to that level. 

One kid was really excited to be eating fried chicken and macaroni and cheese outside. The other one cried. Sounds about right.

But, there’s a lot of good that came of this. So many miles walked, rocks climbed, and outdoor meals. So many Wednesday afternoon movies instead of school work or housework. You’ll be OK, February Jill. There will be more than a few times where you will doubt this, but you will.

Hang in there,

July Jill AKA Double J for short (Haha just kidding.)

P.S. The words “Google Classroom” make you twitch. You might have repressed your traumatic memories associated with these two words. It might come out in therapy but if I were you, I’d tell your therapist you’re fine with these things staying way the hell down in the recesses of your mind. 


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