For my grandmother: Lillian Patricia Lemon Stephens
Last year I ended things by asking 2020 to be gentler with all of us. I read that this morning and I laughed. And laughed. And laughed. I laughed until my sides hurt. I laughed until tears streamed down my cheeks. I laughed until I started coughing. I stopped laughing because many of my family members are sick right now, but I’m not. A lot of my friends are out of work right now, but I’m not. A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, but I’m not. There’s a lot that I have to be grateful for right now. At the same time, I know that it is unhealthy to force myself into an optimistic mindset just because of my fortunate circumstances. And because this blog is based in truth, I have to tell you that I’m tired. No, I’m weary.
2020 was not kind to many of us (except the ultra-rich, who made more money than is decent due to the pandemic). 2020 took my grandmother, an uncle, a friend, a colleague. 2020 brought calamity after calamity (ecological, social, political, economical–take your pick, honey). 2020 showed me how vile humans can be. 2020 broke my heart in a million ways. My recap for this year is brief but substantial. Of this, I am proud:
- Managed to create during a global pandemic, which was fiendishly difficult after I’d tricked myself into thinking that having more downtime would equal creative output.
- Got out of bed every day. In fact, I even made that bed almost every day. Experts suggested that maintaining routines were important, and I stand by that. I’m the type of person who still gets dressed for work, including shoes. It’s the only thing that’s made me actually do my job.
- Recorded and released a spoken word/ambient jazz album with my partner (Bug Eyes would make a beautiful beginning to the year).
- Wrote a libretto for an opera (and put on the first two acts in the Bond House living room–it’s really good and different. Consider supporting the arts).
- Found a way to travel safely (i.e., saw a lot of Massachusetts, which is a beautiful state, and stayed in a bunch of really neat Airbnb’s).
- Went camping, which shocked my mother.
- Started a new novel that might help me fall in love with writing again.
- Developed relationships with my sisters. We talk every Sunday at noon. It’s precious.
- Met the love of my life on January 1, 2020, dated in a COVID-19 world, briefly lived together, made art, cooked mad good food, got engaged.
- Went back to therapy. Haven’t unearthed any trauma that I haven’t dealt with on my own, but it’s good to talk to a neutral third party who is empathetic and takes no shit.
- Held people accountable for their actions, even when it was hard. Really hard.
- Fought hard for myself. This was a year that made giving up very appealing, but I didn’t. I’m still here.
2020 was hard. I’m still here. I’m still here to work and play and love and learn. I’m still here to make plans for better days. I’m still here to think about going back to school. I’m still here to be a part of my sisters’ lives. I’m still here to write stories that make me cry. I’m still here to do the things those who are gone can no longer do. I’m still here to honor them. I’m still here to grow in 2021. May you do the same.