It’s a new year, full of promise, especially given that the last one was the biggest dumpster fire of the decade. Like many of us, I couldn’t wait to see the backside of 2020, and to welcome in 2021, a year ripe with possibility.
In this new year, I am eagerly anticipating my turn at receiving the corona virus vaccine. I am counting the days until the swearing in ceremony of a President-elect who is a deeply empathetic human being, a leader who doesn’t deny the frightening reality of climate change or the need for harmony with the other countries and peoples of our planet. Not to mention the first WOMAN elected to the U.S. vice-presidency, and a woman of color to boot. So, even though our entire state is under stay-at-home orders and my husband and I celebrated New Year’s Eve in front of the TV in our sweat pants, I went to sleep filled with a sense of hope, a feeling that change was finally in the air.
And woke up to a day just like the one that preceded it. A day when I still cannot travel to see my best friends without risking my health and the health of others. A day during which the newspaper and the radio remind me that it is risky to have my family or friends inside my house. Not to gather to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, or to take my traditional new year’s day walk on the beach in Ventura with one of my dearest friends and her family.
Instead of focusing on the bright promise of the future, all that I could focus on is that 1.83 million people died from corona virus during the past year, and 84 million more were sickened. Many, many Americans have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, their businesses, and are on track to lose their homes if/when they can’t pay their deferred rent. And people of color are marginalized, disenfranchised and understandably afraid of the police force which is supposed to protect them. While Rome burns, Nero plays golf and pardons convicted criminals. And some other psychopath purposefully removes 500 doses of the vaccine from refrigeration, rendering them useless.
So, my new year’s day was not as full of hope as I would have liked it to be. Instead of feeling motivated to make resolutions for positive change, I woke up to the same familiar air of malaise. In short, I once again found myself seated on the “pity pot”, as my friend Ruthie calls it, watching my enthusiasm circle the drain.
I pushed myself through my daily routine, a routine that feels more and more like Groundhogs Day. I fed the dogs, ate my breakfast, showered and took the dogs for a walk. I distracted myself with cleaning the kitchen, a book, TV, social media and salty snacks. In short, I went on auto-pilot having lost my sense of gratitude, which has helped me keep my head above water for the past year, and served as a life preserve through some of my darkest days.
And then I remembered that my grandmother went to sleep on December 31, 2000 and was found lying on the floor next to her bed on new year’s day. Given that she was born in 1899 this shouldn’t have been a shock, but it still pulled the carpet out from under me. My boyfriend at the time “comforted me” as I cried in his arms saying, “You didn’t think she was going to live forever, did you?” It wasn’t the most sensitive thing he could have said, but he did have a point. We only get a limited number of New Year’s Days on this planet. I’m still alive and kicking, even if the mandated six feet of distance makes it hard to connect with my target. So I breathed in my gratitude, breathed out my expectations, and sat down to translate my whirling thoughts into semi-coherent words. And to remind myself that there is always, always, always something for which I can be grateful.
Now that I’m done, I off to find an environmentally-friendly paper straw to drink my “quarantini” from my socially distanced bar stool without having to remove my mask. L’chiam! To life!