Open Letter to 2020
You began with a group of neighbors mumbling through a disjointed countdown and tired “Happy New Year.” Then the host of this gathering, a 60 year-old flirtatious redhead from Ireland, asked when we were going to get to know each other better by finishing a bottle of scotch. Unfortunately, NYE wouldn’t be the night. Offended, she offered this advice: “Don’t be a drip!”
A few hours later, mid-New Year’s Day, a notification appeared on my phone:
These two moments left me a bit worried at the onset, 2020. What is this nonsense — foreshadowing!? Was I going to be “a drip” all year? What did my phone know that I didn’t?
Like a lot of people at the start of the year, I was hopeful. I felt like you were the year, 2020, that was going to change my life in a profound way. You did, but not in the way I expected…
For instance, I decided to grab the reigns of my flabby life and join a gym. This isn’t necessarily a “new thing” — trying to get in shape in January — what was new was my commitment: I went more than thrice and paid for the privilege of this membership. The handful of times I managed to scrape my body off the sofa for a 30-minute workout felt productive and empowering. In little increments I could see the fruits of my labor and was encouraged to continue for times four, five, and maybe even six, seven, eight…
Then the Fates decided it was not to be and sent a pandemic to Earth.
Of the surprises that rocked the world, 2020, most weren’t super lovely. Some surprises were tragic. Others downright evil. Each subsequent reveal seemed just a bit worse than the calamity which proceeded it. But it’s easy to nitpick, 2020, on the slow-motion dumpster-fire that held us as captives during 9+ months in isolation. After all, we did have a lot of time to reflect.
Looking back, 2020, should cement how in-this-together we are. I’m grateful for those who stepped up and carried on: our essentials. Those who left the safety of their homes, masked up, and went to work to help others despite the risk. From doctors and nurses to grocery clerks and waste disposal specialists: thank you.
Across the world humans were prevented from doing the thing we’re hardwired for: being social. Visiting friends and family felt like simultaneously breaking the law and committing the immoral act of socializing. Fear created a barrier between everyone. The fear of being a carrier, but not knowing. Or coming into contact with a carrier, becoming infected, and not knowing…
Even before the US was fully immersed in rising death tolls, we were scared. This created a bubble around family and friends. You, dear 2020, made me miss being close to people and long for their hugs, high-fives, and hangs around the campfire. Add to the list: festivals, concerts, theatre, travel, and vacationing…
To weather the storm and support each other when the pandemic struck, the BFF and I joined forces at the homestead. To pass the time home improvement projects were initiated and then later abandoned without proper tools, knowhow, or pep. Like all things, 2020, it was very much one-day-at-a-time. We — along with anyone who’s visited us — are just happy to have a door back on the hinges in the bathroom.
Of the creative intentions set at the beginning, 2020, most were abandoned — I simply didn’t have the emotional capacity or headspace to create. Quarantine wasn’t a writer’s retreat and I struggled with feeling less than because I wasn’t cranking out material. The gift of grace was well received in my heart, 2020.
At the end of it, 2020, you will likely be a story of survival — for me, for many — how we made it, what we learned along the way, and how we’ll move forward with all we’ve been shaped by. What a relief to be done, 2020. No, that doesn’t mean problems are solved immediately by 2021, but there’s a feeling of a new kind of hope lingering in the air.
1 Second Everyday Video Diary
Enjoy this snapshot of 2020 one second at a time.
Noted Happenings & Intentions Met in 2020
- Friendly game of Cards Against Humanity played on New Years Day with friends and their dirty aunts & uncles
- Watched my locker-buddy, Courtney, petition and receive township & county approval for RecuperAcres, the Twin Cities only outdoor/nature-based facility used for therapeutic purposes
- Traveled northbound to Duluth, Minnesota, to celebrate all the amazing qualities possessed by scone-maker extraordinaire, Ms. Mahoney, during her annual birthday dinner
- Experienced what its like to be inside a snow globe while enjoying a cocktail at a revolving restaurant on the top floor of a hotel overlooking Lake Superior during a snowstorm
- Returned safely to Saint Paul the following-day in blizzard-like conditions; memorable only due to all the cars passed in the ditch, the company, and massive White Castle order enjoyed along the way
- Reconnected with a long-lost friend/coworker/improviser/writing partner, Kyle, and met/became friends with his spouse and daughter
- Visited the dentist and doctor like a real adult
- Remained a non-smoker for all of 2020’s days
- Listened to a total of 1,940 artists — 639 new-to-me — across 497 genres (including 152 new ones) which equated to roughly 32,177 minutes of music on Spotify. Here are my top songs of 2020.
- Volunteered for Dakota County’s Trails By Candlelight event and plan to do so again…whenever that is…
- Explored Lake of the Isles with the BFF and a Scorpio for the Luminary Loppet
- Annual trek to 98 Pound Buffet with the Murtha’s and BFF
- Accidentally muttered the f-word on live TV when shot by an air-gun
- A bit later in the year inadvertently flashed America in the shower
- Worked on the house: learned how to strip and refinish wood, run wire, and demo a lot of everything
- Refinanced the house (2x) and car (1x) saving thousands in interest
- Met 75% of savings goal while also paying off three credit cards
- Accomplished financial goals by switching to community-member friendly Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
- Gave antidepressants a try again, yet still no luck shaking the blues away (which may be good considering depression is now being thought of as a vital part of our biological defense mechanism)
- Enjoyed fellowship during Rib Night with friends who are now family at Yarusso Brother’s just before everything shut down in March
- Baked more potpies, pot roasts, and pots of chili than I anticipated — but all with pleasant results
- Essentially replaced my entire normal wardrobe with pajamas
- Took first place during the first week of digital Trivia Mafia
- Recorded a handful of voiceovers for the Your Life Iowa campaign
- Grew a pretty offensive moustache
- Learned more songs on the ukulele
- Spent more time on the fence line shooting the breeze with the neighbor(s)
- Finally got around to trying Johnnie Walker Blue (not worth it) and noshing at Jun Szechuan Kitchen (worth it)
- For the BFF’s b-day we ventured east across state lines where we fell asleep on a lazy river, lost/won money at a casino, camped & got rained out (twice) yet the last night was clear and we slept under stars, savored everything at Wisconsin’s top supper club, experienced the terror of the Lunar Loop, slow danced to a private patio performance by Mike Droho, all so we could be tourists next to a swim-up-bar where drinks are bigger than your head
- Volunteered as an election’s judge in the primary & general
- Organized our block’s snow removal service
- Helped my aunt, Tammy, pack up her life and move further west of the city
- Appeared as a model in Sportsman’s Guide
- Rekindled a love for disc golf playing 56 rounds with an average of +9.53/par
- Discovered the simple meditative joy of creating cairns
- Camped with friends and family, saw the Amish, and swam in a creek
- Learned the pears on the pear tree out back shouldn’t be eaten by me
- Privately mourned the deaths of a titan, a goofball, and the neighbor next door
- Experienced the frosty baptismal waters of Lake Superior
- Shared the table with friends celebrating their success slingshotting around the sun
- Became better at regularly soaking in suds