Of 2020

Of 2020

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“It’s a long stretch of hallway,” I say, hands on hips.

“Mhm.”

“I wish I had style sense. I’m good at doing stuff, not planning stuff.”

“Like painting the hallway? Like fixing the bifold doors on the laundry closet?” he asks, and smiles.

“Yeah. I did a good job on those.” I smile back. “What if we used photos? You know, like all those pictures we took when we travelled?”

“Print them on canvas.”

“Cheap. And light, right? So I can use those Velcro strips to hang them and not wreck the wall!”

He hands me a USB stick. I plug it into my laptop. The folders say, “Argentina”, “Crete”, “Mani”. There are photos from 2002. There we are standing in front of the ruins in Delphi and we are 18 years younger. So are our friends.

I pull out the USB stick and hand it back to him.

“What? You’re done?”

“Yeah. All the pictures aren’t here. Venice isn’t here. Only the old stuff.”

He eyes me suspiciously. “So start with the old stuff. I will find the other ones.”

“Nah.” I get up and start washing dishes.

“What’s up?” he asks.

I shrug and tear up. “Nothing is wrong except I’m no good at this, you know, this picture thing. This decorating thing. I see magazine spreads of before and after hallways and I don’t care that much. So I have a blank hallway. So it’s boring. I don’t want to look at my pictures anymore.”

He says, “Okay.”

Blink. “Okay,” I repeat. I wash another dish. I can see the corner of his mouth, smiling a little, waiting for me to confess. “Okay,” I say again, “I don’t want to look at them because they make me miss my friends. So much.”

Now there are tears pooling in my eyes.

“I know,” he says.

He always does. I love this man because he truly always knows, always understands. I put the dishes down and walk to him for a hug and as always it is there for me, warm and tight. And while I bury my face in his sweater, I am reminded of how good it is to have, not just someone, but him. Through this past year, I had a constant companion. Not everyone can say the same.

A lot of people have written a lot about 2020. I haven’t said much. At least, not here. And now, on this last day of the year, I am going to write briefly about my 2020. In the midst of the pandemic that most of us never imagined we would ever face, I will summarize for my handful of readers the year I experienced.

brown tree with hole during daytime
  1. Many people surprised me. Some surprised me by their ignorance. And more than that – their choice to remain that way. But most surprised me by their kindness. Thoughtful gestures multiplied this year. From the painted rocks in hollows of trees I spotted on my trail walks to the flowers and food left at my door, I am reassured by humanity.
  2. I developed new relationships. What began as a simple text to a neighbour to make sure she was okay has blossomed into a friendship complete with driveway visits 6 feet apart to exchange loaves of bread and cookies. What began as a welcome to the office has bloomed into a collaboration and I am helping weave someone’s life into words that just may help, or at least entertain, a lot of people.
  3. I lost people.
  4. All the things I believed in I still believe in. Even more.
  5. Dr. Bonnie Henry and her regular updates have become the Walter Cronkite of my time and place. “Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Safe.” A rallying cry as calm as a melody.
  6. I entered a contest with a flawlessly written piece that I was confident could and would place at least 4th. It didn’t even make the longlist. I was disappointed for a minute. When I realized the piece was still flawless and also point number 2 re: the collaboration, I forgot about it until now.
  7. Resilience banishes “what if’s”. Tourette Syndrome takes a backstage role when there is something big enough to overshadow it, at least for me. Maybe Tourette’s even prepared my brain for the inevitable virus that would overtake the world in 2020. The daily anxiety quieted instead of amplified because Covid wasn’t as scary as most of the things my brain can conjure. “What if there is a deadly virus that takes over the world?” Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, wear your mask, stay away from other people. Check, check, check and check.
  8. I was ahead of the crowd in making sourdough bread. Just saying.
  9. Nobody needs that much toilet paper. Leave some for the rest of us. Or get a bidet.
  10. I saw whales. From the shore. They swam and ate as usual. The forests I stood in grew tall and straight as usual. The birds still migrated. It still rains here in winter, like it did last year and like it will do next year. Whether I am here or not, whether we as people are here or not, these things will still be. This earth is bigger than all of us.
yellow and black tissue roll

I miss my friends. I miss travel. This pandemic is an unhappy paragraph in our story. 2020 is behind us now and we have high hopes for 2021. I’m sure as the pandemic starts to cool, I will still be surprised by, gain some, and lose other people. I will strengthen and add to my beliefs. I will write if only for myself. I will still have Tourette’s and make sourdough bread, and find toilet paper occasionally on sale. And the earth will go on doing what it does, no matter my actions. And I will be grateful for my husband, my best companion, who knows me better than I know myself.

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6 Replies to “Of 2020”

  1. Very comforting to read your pensive, calming thoughts on 2020 and how you have prevailed.
    Please give that solid ‘rock’ of yours a big hug from us and have him give you one back as well 😘

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