Thirty years ago, I remember doing some quick math as I watched the news magazine show 20/20 with Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters: In the year 2020, I’d be the unimaginable age of 48.
But that was all I knew. The future stretched out into murky waters. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up or where I’d eventually land. I figured we’d have flying cars — obviously! — and home computers, although I lacked imagination to think up something like a pocket device that I could use to post pictures of our cats on the internet and sometimes make a call.
If I lacked the imagination to come up with a cell phone, how could I possibly have foreseen a global pandemic, protests, devastating forest fires, murder hornets and a presidential election that sees the sitting president refuse to concede or facilitate a peaceful transfer of power — all in one year?
So it’s safe to say that I didn’t expect my life as it is now. Not 30 years ago. Not 10 months ago.
It’s easy to think of the parts of this year that sucked: Constant anxiety; everything fun being canceled; losing my job; no longer being able to see my grandmother in person (she turned 97 this month); hug my parents; or see our daughter, Abby, a college senior, on a regular basis.
But there were also parts that were pretty great: Our newspaper came back in a different form and I kept my job after all; more time with my husband, Eric (we celebrated our 25th anniversary this summer, no big deal), our daughter, Johanna, and our cats; being able to take a nap on a weekday afternoon; working from home in a tricked-out office space with a two-second commute; and discovering the magic that is grocery curbside pickup.
Even better: I have a ready-made excuse to stay home, which, as an introvert, is my number one goal in life. And instead of being labeled “anti-social,” I am simply a proponent of public health. Bonus!
I’m more patient and flexible. I appreciate the little gifts of each day. I’m more aware of my neighbors and injustices and my own bias. Letting go is easier, be that things in the house or friends on social media who really aren’t.
But I think the lessons of this year won’t stop when the calendar rolls over — there’s just so much that has happened and the ramifications are going to echo through the years to come — and so, while I can appreciate the good and bad of 2020, I haven’t quite been able to figure out what the year has meant to me in the long-term.
I have a lot of sorting out to do.
I do know that I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions because — déjà vu — the future is again murky. I don’t know what 2021 will look like. I don’t know what sort of energy I’ll have to meet it. Saying goodbye to 2020 is enough.