"It was the best/worst of times"*
What a year 2020 was. Last January I was looking forward to the new year and the new decade. I like round numbers, and it doesn't get much rounder than 2020. In that long ago BC time (Before COVID-19), we had no idea how our world was about to change, or how we'd have to change along with it. I was looking forward to doing some new things along with enjoying the same old, same old: tennis and pickleball, playing cards, music around the campfire, traveling and meeting up with friends, old and new. We all had plans, damn it! Instead, we made changes.
Change 1: I went from being a little bit of a chicken shit to a very big chicken shit, avoiding my friends and family as well as strangers because I did not want to get sick, let alone die in such an awful way. I kept hearing I was “high risk” just because of my age. Thanks to my domineering mother I am blessed (?) with a healthy (?) fear of authority. If someone tells me to stay home as much as possible.....well, I take that literally. Okay, I take it overboard. To illustrate, I have only gone through one tank of gas since April of 2020, have not been to a Walmart since leaving AZ 10 months ago, and have not visited any store or other public place since before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, we do not have a grocery store that delivers. So I have become the Queen of Braless Online Shopping. Between Amazon, Vitacost, Mother Earth, Rancho Gordo, and King Arthur, I have a well-stocked pantry including a big selection of heirloom dried beans; oat milk, coffee and tea; freeze-dried fruits and dehydrated vegetables; nuts and grains out the wazoo; and a variety of flour. (Can you say “prepper”?) I have been making all kinds of bread, including a good knock-off of Dave's Killer with lots of seeds. I bought a hydroponic gardening system on Cyber Monday and have been eating home-grown lettuce and parsley for a few weeks, and my Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes just started blooming. I am inordinately excited about that! My ex-door neighbor often shares whatever produce he finds on sale during his occasional trips to LaGree's, the least crowded grocery store in town. In return I keep him supplied with cookies and listen politely to his unsolicited advice.
Change 2: Normally Wanda and I would be in AZ or CA for the cold months, but I decided to hunker down in Colorado this winter. You might recall that my little trailer is great for the summer, but it does not have a working furnace. I had been looking at other places for sale here in Chateau Chaparral for some time, and my friend Terry Pann had been keeping his eyes open for a place for me whenever I was traveling. In the summer of 2019, Terry and I often went out for a drink and to listen to live music in BV or Salida, but because of COVID, we did not do that last summer. We talked about when we might get to do that again, like maybe in September? Then, Terry died unexpectedly at age 60 when he fell while hiking the Three Apostles. It was a horrible week for all of his friends and family, not knowing what happened to him before his body was found by search and rescue on July 29. I called to offer condolences and whatever help I could to his sister, who lives in MN. We became friends, and somehow everything just fell into place for me to buy Terry's wonderful park model. It is warmer and much bigger than my trailer, and has an amazing view of the mountains. While moving in was harder than I expected, physically and emotionally, I am now settled in and I love it here, as Terry did. Wanda is getting impatient.
Change 3: From September until January 3, I volunteered with the CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) as a Case Investigator/Contact Tracer. We went through the same training and did the same job as the paid employees, and being back in the workforce was interesting, challenging and rewarding. Most of the people I talked to were so appreciative, sometimes just to have someone to talk to and sometimes because I could direct them to other resources like financial assistance or free Telehealth if they did not have a doctor or insurance. But hearing their stories, sometimes I worried about them long after our phone call. Often the reality of the pandemic invades my dreams. In several of them I walk into a room full of happy, friendly people only to freeze in panic because I forgot my mask. In others I see people walking towards me, and I turn and hurry away to avoid them, kinda like I do when I am awake. But last week I had a dream that made me feel much better. I was a much younger me. My husband, (not one of my two real-life ones but nonetheless my husband in this dream), came up behind me and wrapped his warm arms around me. I turned towards him and we hugged tightly for a long time. It was yummy, but I woke up too soon to find out if he was good-looking and/or well-endowed, damn it. I will try to conjure him up again and will let you know. The feeling of that loving hug stayed with me all day and I can't wait to share real hugs with my family and friends, and maybe the occasional stranger, once again.
Change 4: Monday I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. After the second dose (hopefully) on February 8, I am expecting that whatever immunity the shots provide will kick in two weeks later. I know not everyone wants the vaccine, and I was hesitant too. I did a lot of thinking and researching before making my decision. For me, the vaccine feels like my only hope of transitioning back into normal behavior any time soon, whatever “normal” is. If there are long-term side effects.......hey, I am already 73 and things could start going downhill any day now without any help from coronavirus. And if there is a microchip in the vaccine......well, come on and find me, Bill Gates. But I have to warn you, be prepared to get hugged.
*Charles Dickens said it, and it sums up our pandemic experience as well as the state of country.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”