I honestly do not know where to start, so I’m going to rely on chronology to help me make sense of this all.
Who can even remember what was happening in January? That was seven years ago. I was barely an adult. I’m pretty sure I still had braces and acne.
I was working at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (remember that?).
I attended a potluck at my writing mentor’s house and took a shot of vodka to honor my reading of “Anna Karenina”.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was in theaters (remember movie theaters?).
I traveled to El Paso, Texas to visit a dear friend. (Remember traveling?) I visited New Mexico for the first time and soaked in hot spring. A transphobe spat in my face, but otherwise it was a very pleasant visit.
I quit the Depot and started working for The RealReal which meant traveling on a bus down to the South Bay every day. What a strange time that was. (Fun fact: I was a part of not one, but two class action settlements this year – one against Blue Bottle and one against the RealReal. It’s really fun to have a job.)
I started to hear more about this “Covid” thing. There were rumors that some people had tested positive in LA and that it “might” spread up north. Oh, the ignorance. Oh, the privilege.
I turned 27 years old and had a birthday party on March 12th at a bar with a rooftop patio (remember bars?). It was the last time I’d have a normal social gathering for the year, but I didn’t know that then.
On Monday, March 16th the order for shelter in place came through. I started writing about my experience in lockdown.
Exactly one month after my birthday, my Uncle John passed away. I was unemployed at this time and continuing to shelter in place, so I couldn’t visit with my family. There wasn’t a funeral. I just held onto that grief and shoved it down and buried it under all the collective grief around me.
Three days later, on April 14th the last possible day, I found out I had been accepted to the University of Idaho for grad school.
I started making plans for my move to Idaho. I figured that if I was going to be hiding from people anyway, it made more sense to hide someplace cheaper than the most expensive place in the country.
On May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by the police. My last few nights in Oakland, I lay in my mostly empty apartment listening to the helicopters and praying that no one I knew would be harmed. The community had been harmed enough. Everything was breaking apart.
I moved to Idaho. What a surreal journey, in just a few hours I was out of Oakland, out of the city and somehow driving through the mountains. The place that had been my home for the last four years went from a reality to a memory.
I started to meet people in my grad program and got to know the town of Moscow (very slightly). From its idyllic Main Street to its fundamentalist cult. When I moved, the number of infected in Latah County was 9. Now, after the return of students to the University, there are more than 2,000 cases and 6 deaths.
In June, I also joined a DnD group.
Faced the catch-22 of trying to both find health insurance and secure the ability to teach virtually. You may recall some frustrated Facebook statuses from this time.
I continued to take a workshop with my Bay Area writing group which provided some much needed stability.
Continued to get to know more fellow grad students. Went to a lake one time and threw some tortilla chips at some ducklings. (Not actually, don’t freak out.)
I started preparing to teach for the very first time.
Grad school commenced! And I was running along with it, terrified and overwhelmed and still grieving and constantly anxious.
Boy, was teaching nerve-wracking. And exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. Over the course of the term nearly every single one of my students experienced a health crisis, family crisis, or mental breakdown of some sort or another. I had no idea how to hold myself together let alone forty tiny freshmen.
But at least I got to introduce my students to James Baldwin and Twin Peaks. I consider this perhaps my greatest achievement of 2020.
I hadn’t yet found a therapist and I started to run out of my anti-depressants which led to some incredibly difficult days.
The only thing I remember from October was Halloween. I dressed up as the Baba Yaga, as Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and as a hidebehind.
I finally found both a psychiatrist AND a therapist (happy days!), and started to feel more like a human being again. Or vaguely to resemble a human being.
I baked a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
I found out that the only remaining fiction professor at my program would be retiring at the end of the academic year.
I guess we’re about caught up.
I finished my first semester as a grad student, which means I’m 1/6 of my way to a Master’s Degree. Teaching was exhausting, but many of my students informed me that my class was their favorite/ they normally hate English but enjoyed this course/ I was their only friend (eep, bad news bears there). So? I guess that counts as a successful semester?
I wrote probably 6- 10 new short stories over the course of the year, many of them quite bad. I got one published.
I don’t know. Is there any sort of coherence to this year? Other than recognizing the fault-lines that run through our society?
Perhaps more people are beginning to realize the destructive power of capitalism. Perhaps not.
Perhaps we begin to see that our government is not interested in our well-being but rather on the accumulation of wealth.
Perhaps we are beginning to understand the police as the brutal arm of this regime – determined to crush descent and continue the genocide that started some four hundred plus years ago.
Or maybe with 2021 we’ll all just go back to sticking our heads in the sand.
It has been the most difficult, exhausting, horrific, devastating, destructive year I have ever experienced, but I will share the thought that has been keeping me going. I stole it from The Midnight Gospel (on Netflix). During the final episode, there is a conversation about death, a topic that has been on my mind a lot this year. Two of the characters had the following exchange:
“It’s just hard. I love you so much.”
To which the other character responded, “That kind of love, it’s not going anywhere.”
I get pretty weird about physics, but I will just say that maybe love is like matter: it can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. I love the people I love and they know that I love them.
That’s all I can hope for from this year or any year, really.