It's 8:15 pm, New Year's Eve. It sounds like a war outside already, all the fireworks. I admit that I've somewhat lost my taste for small fireworks in the last few years (I still like the huge ones overhead, though I feel sorry about the damage they cause, now that I know. I still like them, it's just not unmitigated joy). Still, I'm glad that people are celebrating, however it brings them happiness. Supposedly at 9 pm we should all be safe in our houses, breathing only the air of the people we already live with. We'll see.
Strange year, no? I had a glorious vacation in California in January, loved up on my family and friends, had adventures on planes, trains, and automobiles. I felt loved. Then I came home for about five minutes, turned around and went back to the other side of the US for my aunt's funeral. She was important to me in my childhood and it was nice to see her husband, sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, all gathered. I still have a peppermint lifesaver to remember her by, but my memories are solid anyway.
Then I came home, Czech Theater put on a play, and the next week the whole country locked down in response to the pandemic. It was ... I don't want to say "funny" but that's the word I have. I was so absolutely exhausted, like exhausted in my soul, and I needed a break. I didn't mean for the whole world to have a pandemic, I would have just stayed home quietly alone! I did not need existential dread for people in general while simultaneously being personally glad for the time out, and then the whiplash of guilt for that feeling.
People kept saying that Now We Have Learned and Now We Know and When This Is Over We Will Be Different. Will we? I think that some of us already knew that about half of the people around us, many in positions of power, are selfish and horrible. Let's say a third. Maybe some of us learned that another third already understand deeply and intrinsically what community means, the needs of the many are entwined with the needs of the one. I don't think I learned anything I hadn't learned four years ago. I'm glad if somebody did. When this is over, we will go back to how we were before, is what I think, though I'd be delighted to be wrong on that.
In the summer there was a moment where it seemed like this country had made it through by shutting down early and hard. I took a lovely vacation in Greece, where I ate my body weight in feta cheese and swam in the ocean and read and slept and laughed until my sides hurt.
Then we came back and schools reopened and we went back to something like normal and now we're shut down again. If I knew I had a week, a month, a year, it would be easier to just buckle in and sit, see where we go. I try to guess but nobody really knows.
What have I processed this year? I am afraid of being unwanted and of being useless. I've seen how I respond to situations where I feel that way and it's not how I want to be; I've seen it before but now maybe with greater clarity. It feels like I may eventually get to the point where I respond in a way that pleases me; I'm not there but it's a thing I can imagine. I think I've gotten better at accepting people where they are and arranging myself accordingly. I find it difficult to say what's changed when a lot of the things that were hard for me (social gatherings, for example) haven't been a presence, but I think I've gotten a little better at being in the moments I am in, whatever they are.
I worked a lot. I meditated more. I watched a ton of movies, which mostly made me happy. I slept more than usual but still not as much as I would like. I remember in my 20s if I could sleep I did, for hours, I would spend a day in bed drifting between books and thoughts and writing and dreams. I can't seem to do that anymore. Still, I slept more than usual. My cooking got a little better. Squire and I settled into a pretty pleasant roommate routine. I got better at standup and did ok with shifting to online. I adapted and performed a play with some friends. I increased contact with some people, regular phone calls or longer letters, knowing that we wouldn't see each other in person for who knows. I am sometimes profoundly lonely, but that was always true.
Anyway, it's 8:45. I'm going to go stand on the balcony and look at the moon. It's midnight somewhere. Happy New Year.