Thursday afternoon. The very last day of 2020. A year ago today…

I don’t usually do these end-of-year review posts, but this has been the strangest year of my life, and I don’t want this memory to fade away or get overwritten by future experiences to the point where I can’t honestly what I’d been thinking on this last day of this terrible year.

I just got the keys for the sad Toronto studio, so that’ll be the sixth place I will have lived in over the course of 12 months. (My previous rental, my current rental I share with landlords, my studio rental, and the three AirBnBs where xgf and I stayed for 72 days.) Even with my tumultuous lifestyle, that was a new record for me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to go on a trip again without asking myself, “what if this turns into a 72-day odyssey?”

A year ago, I never would’ve thought that I’d end up traveling all over Ontario and Quebec in 2020; that I’d move in with my gf; that I’d end up on a roadtrip exploring abandoned mines and running away when my Geiger counter (another new acquisition) starts shrieking at top volume. A year ago, I thought I’d finally treat myself to an international vacation (yay credit card miles) in Tunisia, and then spend a couple of weeks in the summer exploring Montreal and its unique culture. (Obviously, neither of those worked out.) A year ago, I didn’t even dare to imagine that I’d experience a stock market windfall that would get me almost to the magic goal I need to quit the rat race. A year ago, I thought I knew how to say things in French, despite never having taken even a single lesson. Heh.

Things 2020 taught me:

  1. Some countries or regions are more reliable than others. The US, the UK, and the EU failed in their containment measures (and some didn’t even try), while Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Taiwan succeeded. I’d expected the US to fail to respond years ago, when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and all they got in response was a bunch of paper towels tossed at them by their president…
  2. Canada partially failed (thanks to “leaders” like Ontario’s premier Doug Ford) but partially succeeded. The so-called “Atlantic bubble” did everything right by shutting down travel, instituting quarantines for outsiders, having high mask compliance, etc. They had zero cases for several months and started to see a small uptick only recently. That proves it can be done, right here, right now.
  3. There’s no such thing as too many first aid supplies. In particular, prior to this pandemic I had no idea oximeters even existed. Now that we’re finishing off 2020, who has two thumbs and a shiny oximeter? This guy!
  4. I’m not as much of a hermit as I’d thought I was. Looking back, my fantasies of buying a patch of land by a river in northern Ontario and just setting up a small little compound (with the option to ride a dirt bike to a town 10 miles away to get food) was viable, and it would’ve worked, but it was also a kneejerk reaction to a ton of remarkably loud and uncivilized roommates I had when I first moved to Canada almost two years ago. (A girl with meth addiction who would loudly wail every morning; a 19-year-old guy with a giant dog that never got enough exercise and would bark incessantly all day and all night… Fun times.) I’m still very much an introvert, but damn, I miss human company: not only dating, but simply hanging out and going to meetups and having fun discussions about everything and nothing.
  5. I can survive just fine without cider (my one low-key indulgence) but going without caffeine results in god-awful headaches.
  6. Life is far too short, and much more precious than we think.

As we’re wrapping up this awful year and entering a new one, things won’t magically get better. Just yesterday, the US set a new covid death record for the third day in a row: 3,740 deaths. The new cases from Christmas celebrations are only now starting to show up, and all the New Year’s Eve celebrations will add even more within the next week or two. And the new British variant is apparently spreading quite rapidly… Things will continue to get worse – but later on, as more vaccines are manufactured and distributed and administered, it’ll get slightly better. I can’t even imagine what horrors the first half of 2021 will bring us (hospitals in Los Angeles are already overwhelmed) but that second half should be better, right? Right?..

Trying to predict the future is nothing but hubris, but what the hell. I predict that a year from now, on December 31, 2021, things will be better. There will be enough vaccines, and enough distribution, to knock this fucker down and keep it from spreading like wildfire. There will be celebrations, and parties, and exuberant, heart-breaking and death-defying reveling as those of who us who will have made it through will try so very hard to catch up on this lost year. To forget it all.

I’m fully aware the odds are not in our favour here and now, but hey – hope everlasting.

And as for resolutions?.. I resolve to end this blog series when I get my second vaccine shot, whenever that may be. (May? July? November?..) I never expected this mess to go on for this long: to be fair, I think most people didn’t. This is hands down the most ambitious non-work project I’ve ever undertaken, but it too will end. And beyond that… I resolve to read more about the art of writing – from Deborah Chester, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and the like – and try my hand at writing short stories. (While continuing to slooooowly chip away at my dusty old sci-fi novel draft.) And maybe I’ll even get fairly good with my harmonica, who knows.

Happy New Year, y’all. It will get better. It must.