Buh-Bye, 2020…It’s Been Real

Ah, 2020; what can I say about you? You came in so pretty, looking smart in your January duds, and I happily swiped right. By mid-February, things between us were going so well, you had me thinking long-term. I was so hopeful. Unlike the typical flash in the pan relationships, I saw a future with you. Then sometime in March, that shiny-new-year glow began to fade, and your uglier side revealed itself. You didn’t want me dressing up, going out, or seeing other people. Pretty soon, you didn’t even want me to leave the house. No shopping or dining out. No going to the gym, or drinks at the bar, and definitely no parties.

You were so bad for my health, 2020. So much stress, and with no release, I turned to comfort foods. With no reason to dress up, the sweat pants made it easy, too. Those elastic waistbands are so forgiving. And don’t even get me started on the masks.

The worst part, 2020, is how much you seemed to enjoy scaring the crap out of me. You made me worry about my health, my family, and my livelihood. You made me question my friendships. You made me question my country. I had to take a hard look at this place and the people in it and decide if we were still that beautiful melting pot we professed to be. Were we still that country of unlimited possibilities, fueled by a rainbow of beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures, and open to all people – men, women, young, old, gay, straight, trans, black, brown, and white? And were we still stronger together, not in spite of our differences, but because of them? You made me wonder whether we had ever been that country. Were we the land of the free, the home of the brave? Or were we a country of frightened bigots imprisoned in our own minds, close-minded and staunchly protective of our own dogma at the expense of the liberties of others? Would science, critical thinking, and free will save us, 2020, or were we and our democracy destined to self-destruct, suffering a slow death by crazy conspiracies and propaganda?

Yeah, 2020, you are not who I thought you were at all. And I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything good to say about you – anything positive that I’ll take away from our relationship. It’s hard because really, you’ve been awful. But you haven’t beaten me, 2020. So far, I’ve survived you. And looking back, I realize the 2020 I fell for back in January wasn’t real. That 2020 was a phony. As the months passed and I got to know the real you, I dealt with it. You showed me the truth about yourself and a lot of other things, and I dealt with that too. You showed me what mattered, and I saw it more clearly. And you showed me that I’m a lot tougher than I thought I was. I’ve learned my lesson; we’ve all learned a lot of lessons. And we’re going to be better. So while I’m grateful for all of that, please don’t hold your breath for a thank you. Or maybe you should…for a long, long time.

This is usually the time when I say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But that would be a lie. Because this time it’s not me at all. It’s you, and it’s over. Like we used to say in high school, “It’s been real, and it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun.” I know you’ll be around through the end of the year, and I can deal with that. No one should be alone for the holidays. But when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, you need to hit the road. And like we also used to say in high school, “Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.” Because 365 days (er, 366, because Leap Year) of 2020 has been all I can handle, and it’s time for you to pack your bags and move on.

This blog first appeared as a column in the December 22, 2020 Gazette Woodmen Edition.

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