Sorry I missed writing last week. I was busy deleting three billion pictures of my ceiling and carpet, my kids' feet, Toca Boca Hair Salon characters and coloring app pages, nostril selfies, wrong passcode screenshots, and stealthily captured, unflattering pictures of me from my photo library (do I really look like that from behind?). And then, of course, I had to take the leggings I was wearing in those photos immediately to the thrift store.
While flipping through those photos, I was surprised to find myself having slight panic attacks unrelated to the look of my leggings. The panic attacks came from looking at people back in the olden days of 2019 standing incredibly close to each other, mask free. Like, arms on shoulders, cheek to cheek close. Groups larger than ten people with naked faces used to gather in enclosed spaces. I have photographic proof if you don't believe me, though, viewer discretion is advised. I think they even used to shake hands or hug, but it was a long time ago, and my memory's fading.
Lately, I've been reading stories from my family history and... Okay, I felt you tune out just then. I promise there will be no "recounting" of genealogical stories here, so keep reading. Also, rude, but I won't hold it against you.
Anyways, stories from my pioneer ancestry remind me of how grateful I am to live in a time of appliances like dishwashers and clothes dryers, cell phones, pants for girls, and regular bathing. It's a bit of a double-edged sword, though: Appliances give me more time to feel guilty about how I ought to be spending my time, cell phones mean always being available (I think. I can't ever keep track of mine.), pants for girls mean risking unflattering leggings, and regular bathing takes up most of the time saved by appliances.
No doubt, the 21st century is filled with conveniences never even imagined by my pioneer-era ancestors who settled on the Muddy River and had to fish for food amidst clouds of mosquitoes and shortages of cloth and lumber to make clothing and homes. Ha, slipped a story in after all. I'd argue, though, that 2020 has been even worse. Just kidding. We've never had a spouse marry us just to get across the plains to Utah and then run off to California while we survived off weeds because our wheat crop was destroyed by a plague of crickets. There I go again.
While our suffering this year does not compare to the suffering of previous generations, it is worth noting how challenging this year has been to most of us. I mean, there are kids begging to go to school in some places. How is that natural?
Perhaps the only natural thing about 2020 has been our hair color.
While I am as tired of talking about 2020 as I am living it, like how tired you are of hearing me slip in genealogical stories about how I'm related to William Bradford and such after promising I wouldn't, but I think it's worth examining just how much 2020 has worn us down.
We have so much to do to recover from this wild year that we don't even know what to focus on first. I mean, we watched an hour and a half vice-presidential debate and all we can talk about is the fly that perched atop Pence's head for an uncomfortable length of time. Wasn't that crazy, though? It made me feel almost as awkward as I felt watching the presidential debate.
It might take us all some time to bounce back from our social isolation. Like I said before, just looking through photographs of people less than 6 feet apart makes me nervous. Having people in my personal bubble has always given me anxiety, but now it's like, "step back because I think you might be diseased". It reminds me of the time my brother drew an imaginary line in the van on a road trip to preserve his personal, sister-free bubble (as if I wanted to cross it anyways). So, I guess, the plus side is that we are finally treating each other like brothers and sisters.
While 2020 has brought many to a state of spiritual introspection for fear of apocalyptic doom, it has also upended many formal religious practices. We haven't had a normal version of church in a long time. Not only have I had zero opportunity to wear my new dresses, but I also fear that my children have converted to The Church of Watching YouTube in Your Underwear. The worst part is that their new church meets more often than just Sundays.
Staying home with a pantry of emergency-stocked snacks has been rough on the best of us. And despite my gym reopening months ago, I haven't been back. The only thing I can imagine worse than catching Covid-19 would be catching it while bench pressing. It's a shame, too, because I had almost gotten to the point of loading some of those round, disc things on either end of the bar. An unexpected physical benefit of social distancing, however, has been that I have pretty much successfully avoided all types of illness this year, except for my sick muscles, of course.
We've been forced into a sort of survival mindset that has temporarily slowed our less pressing intellectual endeavors. I have little to contribute to conversation aside from, "Did you see that meme where..." and my intellectual focus has shifted from learning graphic design and how to play the piano to studying how to can peaches and make medicine from weeds. Apparently that "medicine" is only legal in Colorado and Washington, though. Whoops.
Travel and social restrictions have put a damper on our emotional health. All this time, I thought movies on Netflix and homemade brownies were what made me happy, but it turns out, it's more than that. It's actually movies in the theatre and brownies from restaurants.
While 2020 has made about as much sense as the three billion photos I deleted from my photo library last week, we can at least look forward to better days to come, unlike my relative, Orin, who recovered from scurvy only to join a military battalion at age 16.
At least our children's children's children will look back on our 2020 history and feel sorry for us with our fogged up glasses from our homemade masks, our gray hair, our WWF political debates, and our Little Debbie physiques.