2020. What shall I say of you?
Your epitaph shall be, the deadliest year in American history. Year of isolation and many quarantines, toilet paper shortages, masks, the theater of sanitation. Out with the smile, in with the smize, the sight of nose & mouth being as obscene as those of genitalia unsolicited.
2020. What have you given to me?
Opportunities: to learn and to be silent, to be alone and self-reliant; to mourn with those who mourn, and weep with those who weep.
Passion: for mathematics, for sewing, for the power of the solo hike, and for the perfectly browned, glutenous pizza crust.
Empathy: for my Black brothers and sisters, who go through more in one day than we could ever hope to understand in a lifetime.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. We will say your names.
Loss: For many, personal. For others, ambiguous. There are two-and-a-half million American families and counting who have lost someone they loved. Never before have so many squinted at funerals on a phone screen as have done this year. Workplaces and movie theaters and diners and barber shops and mosques and bars and gyms will never be the same, because they lost just one person. And every single time they hear the words, “COVID” or “coronavirus,” the loss of that kin is brought back in all its re-traumatizing, shocking horror.
2020. What have you taken from me?
From me personally–honestly–not much but sleep, and a few family gatherings. I survived you, in spite of you. In spite of global pandemic. In spite of economic fragility. In spite of cut-throat, sore-throat politics.
I somehow, personally, made it. I’ve acquired a few new neuroses and scars along the way. It certainly wasn’t easy. Had I succumbed, I would have liked my cause of death to be listed, “failure to thrive.” You can’t thrive in 2020; you can only try to survive.
You can’t stand up in the face of the tsunami of grief, you can only try not to drown in it. You can protest and march and vote and write letters & postcards and phone bank and contact your senator or representative, and at the end of the day, not sleep for feeling you’ve not done enough. You can mask up, wash your hands, avoid touching M.E.N. (mouth, eyes, and nose), and keep six feet apart, yet still end up six feet under. You’re no match against all the silent killers there are in this world.
2020. What shall I say to you?
I’m not sad to see you go. Fuck you, 2020. Fuck you.