Sunday, October 4, 2020
How will you remember 2020? For many this will always be our “COVID year.” Even the Christmas card companies have caught on to it. Displays at Shutterfly, Zazzle, and Personalization Mall lead off with themes like “the twelve days of corona,” “Good Riddance 2020,” and what a “Ruff year” (with a sad dog picture). None at Hallmark, though. I even looked through the “funny” ones.
And now the President has COVID-19, fueling the volatility of 2020 and reinforcing the feeling that it’s not over yet. I continue to plan on an 18-month pandemic span, which will bring us up to next September. However, that doesn’t mean 2021 will be a repeat of 2020. Some of this year’s changes will continue well into next year. Others will fade away in 2021 as conditions change and new defenses come into play.
2021 will continue to bring changes in human behavior, economic stress or relief, local and national politics, and international cooperation or conflict, even as we engage with technological developments such as vaccinations, stronger treatments, anti-viral prevention, and reliable rapid testing. At the same time our knowledge of the disease itself will improve, helping us to make informed decisions about how it spreads, how to prevent long-term damage to the body, how to go back to family gatherings and large-scale events.
With all these variables, it’s a little early to make predictions about life in 2021, except that it won’t be 2020. It won’t be 2019 either. But 2020 brought a few changes worth keeping.
Here are some changes from my COVID year that I would like to keep:
- More “at-home” days. Time to sip the coffee, write the blog, email a friend, take a nap, work on a puzzle, walk Ozzie. The joy of an uncluttered calendar.
- Weekly family Zoom meetings: I look forward to our 6 PM Sunday gatherings and the way they bring us together. Some of us are “regulars” now, but we always enjoy surprise drop-in visits from anyone on the guest list.
- Musical and dramatic performances viewed at home: We saw two Shakespeare plays from the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival without leaving home. Through San Diego Repertory we’ve enjoyed three performances by Hershey Felder (Beethoven, Irving Berlin, and Gershwin), Herbert Siguenza as Pablo Picasso, and–next Sunday night–Angela Ingersoll as Judy Garland. These are engaging live performances where you buy one ticket for the household and look forward to theater night. Seeing “Hamilton” on Fourth of July weekend was a bonus.
- Grocery delivery: All the more time to write, garden, and read instead of driving and parking and wandering those endless aisles.
- More telecommuting, fewer cars on the road: the gift of my son’s company at home, the hope that his younger brother can get a house further away from the city for his growing family.
- But more road trips: Rediscovering the joy of the plans, the maps, the open road. Showing the grandchildren where we used to take their parents.
If this sounds domestic and pedestrian, so be it. As I have said before, I’m happily learning to be old, molding a life I can sustain in the future. I like to write. Hate to drive. COVID has just hastened the process.
What would I like to have back? Well, travel, of course. And choral singing. Holidays with family. Unmasked smiles. Spontaneous hugs. As Dr. Michael Osterholm said in last Thursday’s podcast, the holidays will not be the same this year. But they will come back. Think of this as your COVID year, he suggested.
And that’s what I do.
Today’s Notable Headlines
“Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee remains hopeful for 2021 after COVID canceled events this year,” Mass Live, Oct. 4, 2020. https://www.masslive.com/news/2020/10/holyoke-st-patricks-parade-committee-remains-hopeful-for-2021-after-covid-canceled-events-this-year.html
“Spring 2021 plans announced, giving students, faculty and staff time to prepare,” Penn State News, Oct. 4, 2020. https://news.psu.edu/story/634102/2020/10/04/administration/spring-2021-plans-announced-giving-students-faculty-and-staff
“Osterholm Update: COVID-19 Episode 26: Planes, Trains, or Automobiles?” CIDRAP, Oct. 1, 2020. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19/podcasts-webinars/episode-26
“All the Live Events, Movie Releases, and Productions Affected by the Coronavirus,” Vulture, Oct. 4, 2020. https://www.vulture.com/2020/10/events-cancelled-coronavirus.html
TSA Throughput Numbers 2020: https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus/passenger-throughput
Why am I doing this?
The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.
You are on History’s Edge.