About This Year

By Anna Mitchael

About this time last year, I went out looking for bluebonnets.

My boys and I hiked through a couple of pastures and then over a river.

“Maybe there aren’t going to be bluebonnets this year,” the youngest one said, as we started up yet another hill. On his face you could just see he was dreaming of the sofa at home, maybe a Gatorade from the fridge.

“Oh, no,” I told him. “There will be bluebonnets.” I marched on, determined. They followed, because they had to. In the end we didn’t see any wildflowers, but we all drank blue Gatorades. Two days later when we were in the car driving somewhere (maybe to buy toilet paper) the youngest suddenly screamed, “There, I see them!” I was so startled I started looking around everywhere, not even sure what I might see. His favorite cousins standing in a field or aliens marching off a spaceship — that’s how excited he was. But instead, there were bluebonnets.

About this time last year was the first time I ever put on a mask. A friend of mine had brought over a couple of boxes of surgical masks, and we dumped them out on the kitchen table. “When do we wear them?” someone asked. I shrugged, in my mind they were for emergencies only. That night in bed my husband and I talked about the masks. “Surely, it won’t get to a point where they make us wear them,” I said to him. Wisely, he wasn’t as sure.

About this time last year, I stood in an aisle of the grocery store with six packages of toilet paper in my grocery cart even though the limit was two per person, and I called my parents on the phone. I said this to them, exactly: “Can you drop what you are doing and come up to H-E-B right now? I need both of you.” And I used that word: need. Then while I waited for my parents to arrive I went to buy pimento cheese and flavored seltzer water and microwave pizzas. You know, all the other things I needed.

About this time last year, I bought a puzzle of three kittens and three balls of yarn that I thought would take us at least a full week to put together. When we put it together in a night I panicked, got online and ordered six more puzzles. In two days, a box was delivered that contained a space station; superheroes; a castle with a moat, drawbridge and lots of trees around the perimeter; and lots and lots of puppies.

“What did you get?” my husband asked when he saw the box, and for a reason I couldn’t pinpoint, I felt embarrassed. “Nothing,” I said to him. I thought of an article I had just read online listing all the things you could use for toilet paper if you ran out. I said to him, “If things get really bad, prepare to wipe your backside with a space station.”

Last week we were driving in the car and one of my sons asked if I had seen any bluebonnets this year. I couldn’t remember if I had, couldn’t even think of whether or not I had looked for any yet or not. “I don’t know what I’ve been thinking about,” I said while I looked at the landscape rushing past. But I did know; I knew exactly where my mind had been. Then and there I decided it was about time to start thinking about this year.

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