Having a senior in high school and being definitively planted in the middle-age category, I was recently reminded of the adage, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Time really does move too quickly, and it all goes by too fast. Except, of course, for 2020, when our watches were set to COVID time. You’re convinced it’s Thursday, only to be reminded that Tuesday is still not over. The minutes, hours, days and entire year were excruciatingly protracted.
The days were long, in part, because we were challenged with filling the hours. Eating out during the week or on a Saturday night at Fireside Pies, Hello Dumpling or Maya’s Mediterranean was replaced with ordering takeout and going back to the place we were longing to leave: home.
We are fortunate to live in a city where a random 70-degree day in winter is expected. While we may pare back on our favorite outdoor hobbies, such as tennis at Samuell Grand or biking the Santa Fe Trail, during an occasional freeze, we can easily don an extra layer and brave the chill when a cold front comes through. As many of us have opted out of indoor activities, it’s safe to say that we are not back to normal living.
Outside of this past year, some of my longest days occurred in 2011, starting with a move from Dallas to Seattle for my husband’s job. Even in retrospect, the six months we were there felt longer than the decade that has passed.
With immediate access to skiing, hiking, kayaking, fresh seafood, coffee houses, an awesome live music scene, the San Juan islands and more, the Emerald City is one of the best places on earth to set up a new home. And it is! Between July and September. But we moved January 1.
The normal seasonal gloom of a Seattle winter was exacerbated by the city’s worst winter in 51 years. The first time I saw the sun was mid-March, and it was fleeting. In May, I was holding an umbrella to keep the hail at bay while my daughter and I watched her brother’s baseball team practice. By the time June came along, I was still wearing a winter shell over an insulated parka. In July, we hired a moving company, this time taking our goods to Bangalore, India, for yet another job relocation.
Our time in India started with the expected challenges — attending new schools and making new friends. Three months into our expat assignment, we received an unexpected phone call from my parents telling us my brother had died in a boating accident. The days were exceptionally long. It was a tough year.
It’s crazy how life works. John and I firmly believed our move to Seattle was our last one, and we did everything we could to make it feel like home. Yet through the circuitous nature of unpredictability, in 2013, after a lot of adventurous travel and incredible experiences, we ended up in a place we never thought we’d be: permanently residing in the same M Streets home we bought in 2003.
I’m not sure how the actual saying goes, but I voice the following often as a reminder to myself and my children that life is a journey: If you’re happy where you are, remember your path brought you here. If you’re unhappy, remember you’re still on the path. I’m hoping this is the case as we transition to 2021 from 2020, AKA the experiential version of the reality show, “Year of Hell on Earth.”
I’m not foolish enough to believe that just because 2020 is over, all of our ills will magically vanish. The origins of a calendar are based on astronomy and agriculture, and New Year’s Day is really an arbitrary date. However, just like when my dark days of 2011 were coming to an end, I see the hopeful rays of a new beginning. There’s the eagerly awaited COVID-19 vaccine becoming available to the masses, and my other favorite, a very long election season in our collective rearview mirror.
In addition to the federal and state races, our Dallas ISD District 2 school board contest was the longest on record, having been extended from May to November. It was also the most uncomfortable I’ve ever experienced with hyperpartisanship in a nonpartisan race and a lot of online chatter about the domain choosedallasisd.org.
I am optimistic that 2020 has made us more enlightened, and my predictions are as follows: We will transition from viewing the time we were sequestered with our families as “forced” and, honestly, some days, “torturous,” to wanting to frequently opt in. We will address and have necessary conversations about equity, racism, poverty and the income gap. We will have the opportunity to help others on a scale that is systemic versus addressing point-in-time needs. And all three District 2 candidates will work together for the benefit of our kids and community. It’s a grand vision for sure, but in short, I’m betting we will be in a better place a year from now.
Personally, and closer to home, I’m looking forward to eating out instead of ordering takeout, bellying up to the bar at the Libertine and scoring a solid 115 at Bowlski’s.
So, let’s give 2020 the middle finger as we wave goodbye and look forward to the new year. If we as a neighborhood move forward and are better for it, we’ll know the path that got us here was the right one. If 2021 sucks, we’ll have to remember we’re still traveling down the road. Onward.
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