They say hindsight is 2020. While I’m not sure that enough time has passed to allow for perfect clarity, the memory of this past year is, at the least, still fresh in my mind.
We’ll all have our own stories to come out of 2020. The silver linings of those that welcomed healthy babies, finally enjoyed their own backyards, relished their lack of commutes. Those that just might look back on the year with fondness. But there are many others, less lucky, that grieved losses and loneliness, watched careers evaporate, were trapped in unhappy spaces with the wrong people, were asked to juggle too much or found themselves, unexpectedly, with not enough to get by. I suspect it will take many a long time to come to terms with the effects of this year.
I find myself somewhere in the middle. Incredibly grateful that our immediate family remained healthy and we had a safe home to weather the worst. Someone to kiss me goodnight at the end of every long day.
And yet. I watched the city I love become the epicenter of a deadly pandemic nearly overnight. Stores boarded up and police barricades built. In April, silence and sirens. By June, the screams of people so tired of the same old shit in this country amidst a year that was anything but the same old. By October, the company I’d worked at for nearly 7 years closed and I lost my job. There was isolation from friends and family, worry over what would come next in my career and what would pay the bills in the meantime, the stress of the election and useless fights with Adam.
When I look back on this year I will remember us lying in bed listening to the persistent drone of hovering helicopters. How we constantly watched the news and some days, never even stepped outside. I will remember kneeling on pavement in the middle of Fifth Avenue amidst a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. A young Black woman next to me holding a baby boy to her chest, as police in riot gear looked on. I will remember the constant stream of moving trucks by summer – offering a way out or a reluctant exit for so many. I will remember scrawling our initials into permanence in freshly poured concrete outside our apartment, when the world beyond our block felt so incredibly uncertain.
I will remember our long talks on the couch that dug deeper than the petty fights and healed past hurts. I will remember catching the afternoon sun on the fire escape, a good book in hand. Watching sunsets and season change from that same perch. I will remember leaning out the windows at 7PM as the city erupted into applause for healthcare workers while the “corner DJ” played our street a song of the day. I will picture the pink whistle that I used to add to the noise. I will remember working the polls on election day, spending 17 hours with a woman named Lena who has lived in Harlem since the 50s. The way she reassured me ‘baby, we’re gonna be alright’. I will remember that as the rest of the world fell away – those of us who stayed in this city held tight to each other. Even from a safe distance. I will remember walking miles and miles – admiring the bridges and bones of New York that have held steady through so many other storms.
I’m not sure what’s to come next year, but I’m thrilled to share that I started a new job at the beginning of December and I couldn’t be more grateful or excited about the position and the company itself. They say that 1 million New Yorkers will be vaccinated in January and we’ll have a new president in a few short weeks. Despite a year that held so much darkness, there are glimmers of hope everywhere.
Wishing you all a 2021 filled with more health, happiness, love and light.