Today marks one year since I flew in an airplane.
Tomorrow, a year since the last time I worked in an office.
Last Saturday, one year since I gave someone outside my household a hug.
Last Monday, a year since I rode on a bus.
Next Friday, a year since I ate indoors at a restaurant, at our local sushi spot.
The last time I saw my dad was January 7th, 2020. The last time I saw my mom was February 9th, 2020. I speak to them constantly. I miss them all the same.
I can’t remember the last time I went to the movies, or the theater, or a game, or a bar. I can’t remember my last dinner party. Or the last time I went to brunch with a friend. Or the last time I visited a friend’s house. Or the last time a friend visited mine.
I can’t remember the last time I felt safe. There’s been moments of real joy. There’s been moments of surprising calm. But in the background there is always, always a little fear.
365 days and more than a thousand hours of video calls. Doing my absolute best to focus, but failing at it a lot. Looking at my own face, all the time, always there, even when I minimize it and relegate it to the farthest corner of the window, or I can’t take it anymore and I turn the camera off. I’ve looked at my face while talking, crying, eating, laughing. I’ve looked at my face absorbing the harshest words and delivering unwanted news.
In the beginning, I counted. How many meals I cooked. How many toilets I cleaned. How many loads I laundered. How many rolls of toilet paper I replaced. How many diapers I changed. How many floors I swept. How many tears I cried.
I quickly lost count.
I collected Zoom life events like I was filling a literal bingo card: one Zoom wedding, one Zoom bridal shower, six Zoom birthday parties, two Zoom bar mitzvahs, one Zoom graduation ceremony, one Zoom funeral. I don’t know if this means I won or lost.
Many times, I said to myself: things can’t possibly get worse. But then they did. They got worse. The global pandemic was just the beginning. A racial justice reckoning followed, raw, painful, urgent, and deeply felt. Then the grueling election cycle with more hate and divisiveness than I’d ever experienced, with a President that thrived on chaos. Wildfires that forced us to shut our windows for weeks, depriving us of what little reprieve we had from the long hours indoors. For weeks we couldn’t even walk outside. Then came the third - and biggest - spike in cases. And finally, an attempted coup at the Capitol that played out on TV, more bizarre than most Netflix shows we binge watched this long year.
When the outside chaos quieted down even for a moment, personal chaos set in. Health scares. Family drama. Financial crises. Work stress.
For weeks I could only watch Hallmark-style Christmas movies because the predictability made me feel better. I promised myself I’d only watch Christmas movies until I got my COVID-vaccine. But the Holidays are over. And vaccines are still a distant dream for me.
365 days and it feels like we’re living in an overly workshopped movie. At times science fiction, political thriller, and soapy drama. I don’t want to watch this movie, let alone live it. I want to live in a safe, boring, comforting, predictable rom com for a little while.
In the midst of all this, somehow, I kept working, I kept my home, I kept my family. One day I’ll look back and wonder how in the world I got anything done this year.
The chaos started to quiet down sometime in January. Things started to slowly look up. We’re not waking up to new drama and tragedy daily. A new feeling has settled in instead: tedium.
I never, ever imagined something like this could happen. And when it did, I never imagined it would last so long. The end is in sight, but still so far away.
There is much I will remember fondly from these dark tedious days. There’s been silver linings, surprising, and joyful. I think maybe we’ll forget just how hard this all was someday. But I don't want to forget what I learned. That’s why I’m writing it down, in all its raw, authentic truth. I want to remember that we get one life.
Don’t take things for granted.
Don’t waste time.
Hug your loved ones.
Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
You can handle so much more than you can imagine.
This too shall pass.