Whether you’ve had to turn your home into an office or classroom, or you’ve been working out among the public; this year has been challenging for everyone. It’s hard to look back on 365 days that have been simultaneously life-changing and soul-crushingly monotonous. Monotony has been a gift, however. I haven’t had the added strain of a family member in a nursing home, nor have I had to deal with being one of millions who have been infected with Covid. Most fortunately, I haven’t had to cope with losing one of the more than half a million lives lost to this pandemic. I have merely served as a witness to the events of the last twelve months.
In the past year, I turned half my bedroom into a remote office for my husband, I taught from home and kept two teenage boys on track to graduate high school in a few months. I coordinated with friends to locate, purchase and share once-elusive packages of toilet paper. I cleaned and organized cabinets and closets. I baked loaves of bread and dozens of cookies. I became the family barber. I attempted immunity-boosting cocktails (terrible) and whipped up dolgana coffee (not bad, but much better with a heavy pour of Kahlua in it). When the weather allowed, I sat in yards and driveways for socially-distanced hangs. I established and maintained a quarantine bubble. I started calling friends instead of texting - in a time where face-to-face conversations are rare, spending an hour on the phone and hearing the laughter in an old friend’s voice feels more real than words on a screen. I got bone-tired of the phrase “new normal.” This year I dealt with anxiety, as have many of my friends - it’s no surprise that in a time of so many unknowns that many of us struggled. I started a new job which has me working and thinking creatively every day. Birthdays have been celebrated remotely. I reached the end of my tether more than a few times and confronted people who refuse to follow guidelines. I have comforted dear friends through incomprehensible loss. I have cried and I have laughed until tears streamed down my face.
It feels like we’re turning the corner. Each week thousands more folks are getting their vaccines, and we get closer to getting back to the lives we left behind last March. Conversations are tinged with hope and folks are starting to make tentative plans for spring concerts and summer barbecues. One item on lots of “after I’m fully vaccinated” bucket lists seems to be hugs. I’m not a big hugger but I have missed my friends like crazy, so if they want a hug, I’m gonna squeeze them right back and just as tightly.