comic strip Brewster Rockiy 12-26-2020

The Year the Wasn’t: Some Things Changed

I last posted here in March of 2020. It’s hard to grasp whether that was really nine months ago or just a few weeks. I’m not the first to onserve that time had been so strange this year. I don’t think most of us who have lived through this year will forget 2020–like it or not.

comic strip Brewster Rockiy 12-26-2020

Please know I’m not saying “lived through this” casually. The coronavirus wasn’t the only thing that took lives in 2020, but it has taken something from every one of us.

My family and I have done our best to follow the prescribed precautions. Depsite that, COVID-19 has taken from us too. My 91-year-old father was very involved in his church and community in the Before, and the abrupt cutoff of his social activities was tough on him. His physical and mental health have declined this year, and the isolation played a big part in that. He can no longer live independently, and until things change, we can’t visit him in the care home. This virus is especially dangerous to the elderly, but the things we need to do to protect them pose their own hazards.

Despite that, I told someone a few months ago that I was built for the lockdown life

And after spending most of 2020 living it, I still mostly believe that’s true. Early in the pandemic, I saw articles proposing that introverts would adapt to stay-home orders more readily. That’s largely been the case for this introvert. (I’m not the extrovert my father is.) I miss weekend coffee dates with my sister, casual conversations with coworkers, traveling, and eating in restaurants. But with that said, I confess that I mostly haeven’t minded being forced to be a homebody.

And here’s the thing: There are some parts of my life I actually hope never return to pre-pandemic “normal.”

I expect crowds in public spaces to be anxiety-inducing. I’m dreading the return of everyday traffic. I’ve been able to work remotely four days a week since last spring, and I really don’t want to be in the office more than twice a week once the world resets.

But if I have to go there, I will…I am grateful to have a good job. As of mid-October, my husband no longer does; after 19 years with the company, he was “restructured” out. For the record, losing long-term employment when you’re still a few years too young to be able to treat it as retirement is…well. sucky. Also for the record, we have a safety net and are doing OK. I’m grateful for that too, because it is not the best job-search environment right now.

And ironically, given that development, that I feel like I’ve spent more time this year working than doing anything else. Granted, working from home gave me more hours to work, since I was not spending them in the car driving 80 miles a day. And there was the remote-work learning curve, involving new logistics and a staggering number of Zoom meetings. Some people explored new hobbies or pastimes in the Year of Our Coronavirus. I barely kept up my old ones (this space being Exhibit A). Almost everything new I learned was mostly–literally–to get the job done.

Opening a new calendar is not an automatic reset, but if there was ever a New Year that called for one, we’re looking at it. All I ask of 2021 is that it doesn’t become 2020, Part 2.

(This post will have a Part 2, though…)

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13 comments

  1. I feel the same about 2020 and being an introvert and working from home. We have similar thoughts on that. I’ve adjusted far better than my daughter did to online learning and her emotional roller coaster because “life without friends.”

    1. I have several coworkers with school-aged kids who are having to oversee their kids’ remote learning while trying to work from home themselves. That’s one challenge I’m glad not to have.

      1. I definitely wouldn’t wish that on anyone. We do what we can, but if I was the “mean” mom before…you can imagine what she thinks of me these days. She’s on break until Jan. 4, so I’m taking it as time for her to recharge and have fun — as much as she can while in isolation.

  2. Good reflection on a strange year and the beginning of 2021 doesn’t really change it all that much as I think we had all hoped. I have surprisingly adjusted to working at home as well and I’m an extrovert. I’ve noticed I work more since there is no separation of work and home though. My parents a little younger than your dad and are lucky that they live in a house with me and my daughter so they have company.

    1. It’s good that you and your parents can share space (and that your folks still have each other!) – the isolation can just make all the other stuff that much harder. And you’re totally right about the lack of separation between work and home – I really need to force it sometimes.

  3. You and I are on the same page with this pandemic. I was way too busy and overworked pre-pandemic. No time at all for anything. Running around crazy, all the time. I BEGGED for a slower pace and got it. Now, I get very antsy and irritable when there are too many people anywhere. It’s going to be awhile before we return to campus but even so, they need to give us a good amount of notice beforehand because I don’t think I can do the commute or stay at work all day again without easing into it.

    1. We are definitely on the same page! I am fine with the generally slower pace, and with the “hybrid model” my employer is using – remote as much as possible for all positions that can work that way, and a phase-in plan for binging staff back on-site (which has been pushed back twice and will now start who knows when) .

  4. Sadly, the first part of 2021 might be 2020, Part 2, but I believe that we’ll get through it. Not just you and I :), but as a country and even a world. We will survive…

    1. We’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel that might not be an oncoming train. (And it looks like we’ll wake up from part of our long national nightmare around the third week of January…that helps 😏.)

  5. I’m with you on not necessarily looking forward to some things returning to normal. I used to say that I couldn’t live any where that didn’t have a Target within 15 minutes but I haven’t set foot in one since last March. Same is true of the grocery store (although, to be fair, my hubby does go into the grocery store for the things I forget in my regular pickup). I do go into work a couple of times a week, which is good for me and I have found I’m happier with some chance to see other faces and talk to people other than the hubby. Sorry to hear about Paul’s job – it’s tough in the best of circumstances to find a new job when you hit a certain age. Hope he finds something he likes soon.

    1. Thanks, Lisa – me too. Fingers crossed that now we’re through the holidays the job prospects will pick up. I’ve still been doing the Target runs and grocery shopping, but aside from my one day in the office and walking the dog, most weeks I don’t really go anywhere else.