How Do You Measure a (COVID) Year...
...In daylight, in sunsets, in cups of coffee.
When I think of a year and all of the moments that make it whole, I'm reminded of the song Seasons of Love which sums it up quite poignantly. All of the beautiful and painful and mundane and perfect moments that make up a year. This year was a bit different of course, and the lyrics might change to some version of this:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure? Measure a year?
In zoom calls.
In ice cream.
In pounds gained. And nights of worry.
In 6 feet, nights in, in laughter and strife.
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in this life?
How about love?
Everyone seems to be reminiscing about this time last year. One of those “where were you?” and “what were you doing the week before it all went down" moments in life. I remember talking casually around the office last February about this virus that was circulating in China and being mildly concerned, as those of us with anxiety are prone to be. I had a trip booked for March and I did a little poll on my social media asking others if they thought I should cancel. The response was a big NO. I canceled it nonetheless, because of said worrying. Had I gone ahead, I might have been stuck at a yoga retreat in Barbados (if only).
When the Imagination's Figment Becomes Real
I think the moment this virus really made its way into my life and not just my consciousness was when I was heading to work the week prior to our first lockdown situation. The subway had broken down and everyone was asked to exit at a particular station. Normally you’d hear people complaining and talking about the delay as they stood shoulder to shoulder on the subway platform. This time you could practically hear the heartbeats of anxious passengers as everyone stood stock still and tried not to breathe on anybody else. No one knew anything at that point, but we’d passed the tipping point of being afraid. You could feel the energy from the tension of a collective holding of breath. Mandatory masks were still a futuristic concept. I felt sorry for anyone who had a tickle in their throat or dared let out a cough. Death stares and subway platform exile would result. I was like “I’m outta here.” I reached the street and called my boss, telling him I couldn’t handle the crowded, broken-down cesspool of the subway and was going to work at a local coffee shop till it cleared. I haven’t been back to my office, save a couple of maintenance visits, since. Nor a coffee shop for that matter.
That weekend, it was week two of dating my new beau. We hiked and joked about social distancing. We met a friend at a dog and beer event and for the first time ever talked about maintaining our distance, sanitizing our hands, and how we’d “probably just gotten” COVID after visiting the toilet. There was a weird sense of excitement and comfort in togetherness as we faced the unknown. I mean was the world going to go full Walking Dead on us, or should we just keep on drinking our beer? The feeling of oneness of a shared strange experience is very energizing.
Of course, none of us knew what was in store.
And now an entire year has passed. Which feels both like a lifetime, and also like we were at that beer event just last week. For me, time in a year manifests in my brain like a circle that closes every year and builds up over the last like rings on a tree over time. But it almost feels like this year’s ring doesn’t count. We’ve moved forward, backward, and managed to stay in the same place all at once. I watched my niece grow from afar and it broke my heart to have a boundary between us. I cleared out an office full of things I’ve had for 16 years and will likely never have my own office again. My skin stretched and shrank to accommodate my ice cream and pizza binges multiple times. I wrote a lot. I had a plan to write way more and bake and crochet and do all the things. But alas.
We all have our lessons from this year. Life flows on and what have I learned? That time really does fly. That nature is precious. As are hugs. That movements aren’t halted by viruses. That viruses are little assholes. That you fundamentally disagree with people you thought you might be on the same life page with. That the hard stuff in life carries on even when the world has paused. People get sick. Relationships develop around weird situations and detours. I mean my boyfriend picked me up from my colonoscopy before he'd even met a handful of my friends. But good things also come out of the strangest times. More questions have cropped up than answers. I sit on a meditation cushion of uncertainty and wonder what’s next, while I try desperately to enjoy the moment.
I’m so happy that pre-COVID I took advantage of so many "happy hours" that broke the bank and trips that certainly took away from my long-term financial goals because as we’re all seeing this year, you’ve got to grab the moment when it’s available to you.
Things are looking up.
We keep on keeping on.
Stay safe. As happy as you can. We got this...I think.
And check out that beautiful song here: