The 2020 Blues
In late 2019 I fractured my foot. My attempts at walking with provided aids were unsuccessful. But, late in February of 2020, my bone was healed and I was slowly regaining my ability to walk on my own. I felt joyful and looked forward to 2020 being wonderful.
During my second week of unhampered mobility, there was a story about a dangerous virus that one could catch from touching a surface that an infected person had touched. That news was delivered through my television screen the day before I was scheduled to enjoy my first social interaction outside of home in three months. I brought a bottle of hand-sanitizer and was generous about sharing it with my friends as we went to a theater and then to a restaurant. I recall that we laughed at ourselves as we frequently passed around my hand sanitizer, feeling that were being overly cautious, but thinking that it’s better to be safe. Three days later our entire city was in lockdown, and hand sanitizer and toilet paper seemed worth more than gold. I recall e-mailing to my friends and family that I had food, toilet paper, and paper towels to last three weeks – maybe four if I was careful – and that the danger would by then be passed.
I spent my first lockdown day recognizing, perhaps for the first time, the full value of my terrace as I took in sunshine and fresh air while looking down upon eerily empty streets. I was aware of the trouble caused by people being kept from their livelihoods, but I thought it would last a short time. Meanwhile, I delighted in the quiet tranquility and the ability to hear birds singing. I smiled.
On the second day of lockdown I removed everything from an overstuffed closet and started to rearrange the contents to be orderly and easy to access. Prior to my Big Fall, I’d acquired a number of bins with the intention of rearranging all of my closets to be more efficient storage facilities, but then I’d found that I could not perform such tasks on one foot. While I was forced to stay home, I would use that time to work on a number of home projects that had been put off, some of them for years. I told myself that it would be a great opportunity for me.
Ten months later I was struggling to find joy anywhere, even in the completion of projects that by then I forced myself to perform. It was five months into this pandemic that I ran out of steam - I then engaged in such efforts less to feel successful and accomplished, and more to feel as if I have any control or even exist. I’ve permanently lost so much. I’ve read an immense number of books, I’ve engaged in my most beloved hobbies. I’ve written extensive e-mails and/or had extended phone conversations with long-time friends who are far, and I’ve completed an enormous number of projects that make my home more pleasant. But, I’ve watched my savings dwindle while my angst increases. And I’ve needed stretches of time without hearing News which seemed each day to be worse than I could imagine it could be. In disbelief of what was before me, there were days when I was prepared to give up hope for civilization. There were days when I wondered at how self-destructive is the Human Race, and I strived to understand why humans are determined to harm each other instead of helping each other. Now, at times I find myself uncertain of what day it is, and I wonder if I’ll ever again be able to wear what I’ve come to call “outside clothing” after wearing only stretchy waist shorts and giant tee shirts for the better part of thirteen months. The thought of putting on make-up or coordinating jewelry confuses me. I’m not confident that I retain the ability to hold a coherent face-to-face conversation. And I wonder, with optimism, if I’ll still be efficient and proficient once my business rebounds.
But, 2020 has turned into 2021. 2021 comes with the hint of a possible return to humanity, and the promise of a vaccine that could soon be available to me. For the first time in over a year, upon me fell the desire to celebrate something. So, I spent an afternoon playing favorite songs and dancing around my apartment, delighted at the arrival of this new year that I am convinced will deliver better days. I’ve bought a 2021 calendar and I’ve even marked some events on future dates as if they will happen. The human spirit is resilient. We will come through this.