It’s a COVID New Year

A year ago, I spent an hour and a half looking for parking as the minutes dwindled down to midnight. As the seconds counted down to 2020, I stared at the bright red of a traffic light in Uptown Manhattan and cried as I had no one to start the New Year with aside from the DJ on Q104 saying Happy New Year. I’ve never been one for New Year’s but this time I was excited for it to be ultimately let down. Because if that wasn’t an indication of 2020 was going to be like, then I don’t know what is. 

Here we are, a year later, and it feels like all I’ve done is stayed at that same light. As if I’m still waiting for it to turn green except instead of everyone celebrating in their home with their loved ones, we’re each in our respective car waiting for our turn to go on, for that red light to go out  so we can keep on keeping on. 

The pandemic, the world’s tragedies, the undoubted nonsense isn’t going to stop once the year ends. All it means is that the earth is going to complete its rotation around the sun. However, 2021 means something different, something new. It’s the breath we didn’t know we were holding. It’s the calm in the sea after a storm passes. It’s the moment you’ve folded the last piece of clothing in a large load of laundry.

This year has been long and it’s been rough and when you look back at it, it’s a blur of face masks and cotton swabs. Or it’s black because your mind has blocked it out. And what we hoped, much like Thanksgiving and Christmas, was to be surrounded by our safe and healthy loved ones to ring in this new dawn because where we are today is seeing that first spark of light in the distance. But, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’re limited to spending it with groups of 10 or less. And we have to think second and third thoughts about Person 11 and Person 12 and how we love them just as much as Persons 1-10. 

We all set our hopes for 2020, it was supposed to be a good year when the last several have failed to meet our expectations. Despite it’s rocky start, there were plans set: travel to Vancouver to see my best friend get married, be more active, be even more social, celebrate my 30th birthday with a bang, continuously set goals, kiss the love of my life. Instead, I settled for a YouTube video of the wedding, bury the ashes of my dog, ice cream dates six feet away, take temperatures to the people wishing me a happy birthday, put those goals on hold, and keep to myself.

As all of those emotions coagulated in my chest while I mourned for things I wanted, I scrolled past something on Twitter that summed up everything. 

“I thought 2020 was going to be the year where I got everything that I wanted. Now that it is almost over, I realize that 2020 made me appreciate everything that I have.”A lot of us lost people this year, some of us didn’t lose anyone, all of us know someone who lost someone else. With all of that, the holidays were reined back to their core meanings: sharing a meal with our family and friends and being thankful for what we have, showing how much they mean to us with a thoughtful gift rather than a lavish one, and that how tight we should hold their hands as we embark on something new together towards that promising speck of a light after 365 days of dark.

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