After a certain age, it all kinda runs together, doesn’t it?
We remember birthday dates, weddings and graduations, the years we moved, when we started (or lost) a job . . . those events that marked the major ups and downs of our lives. Attached to these may be a few historical happenings and some other random images.
But for most of the years we’ve lived, stand-out remembrances are often missing, and the older you get, the memories become miscellaneous, not well attached to particular twelve-month periods. That really important thing, remembered so vividly . . . was that 1997 or maybe ’96 . . . ?
But not 2020 — year 2020, and the memories this year will produce, are not likely to go away any time soon.
Well, reader, whatever your memories about 2020, there will be a host of things I’ll be recalling rather clearly — with a smile or a frown (or tear) or simple shake of the head – key images or some random connection of thoughts that pop into one’s head in the middle of a restless night.
• Some large numbers about 2020 will stick with me: 350,000 – more than a third of a million of American deaths, likely heading toward a half-million (and here, I’ll feel the good fortune of not having a family member or close friend lost to the virus); and seven million – the number of votes that the winning presidential candidate posted over and above those of the loser; but also 70-some million – the number of Americans who voted for the other candidate, someone totally unfit to fill that office, along with the continuing mystery of how, and what, they were thinking in doing so.
• And I’ll often recall the frightening fact that a good many of those 70-some millions backing Trump essentially threatened turning America into a middle-east autocracy, supporting a coup based on the unsubstantiated delusion of one man. That delusion was offered to overturn election results in which more Americans than ever before cast legitimate ballots, the charges of fraud unsupported and rejected by the loser’s own hand-picked judges and administrative adherents.
• I’ll remember the many masks (which I too often forgot to grab when I got out of my car and had to trundle back to get and put on my face before going to the grocery). And along with this, that uncomfortable sensation — that going anywhere outside the house, even while wearing a mask, was a small but life-threatening risk.
• The image of store shelves completely bare – with maybe a small sign of apology for the absence of any product – inevitably recalled as other viruses will inevitably threaten.
• And there’s the picture of major sports being played, arenas and stadiums absent of fans (or presented by cardboard cutout), and the faux cheering, or groaning, piped in to provide the suggestion that it was all OK, somehow normal, though it obviously wasn’t.
• I’ll remember how easy – and dispiriting – it was to prepare for Christmas morning and the usual gift-exchanging and opening. Because with no family around to appreciate the effort, a present or two is handed over in cardboard mailing box or shoved into a bag without seasonal paper or bright bows because . . . well, why bother?
• And then there’s the image of a guy in red jacket whacking at a little white ball (no, not Tiger, and definitely not Santa) off in Florida, over the Christmas holiday weekend. Meanwhile, the news features Americans in long lines to be tested or waiting to file for unemployment or simply hoping for food. And they’re wondering if they’ll have to find another place to live, or when they can get back to work – if there is any work to get back to — and how they’ll pay any of their bills.
• Alternative to this image is the picture of an older guy, looking a bit like a favorite uncle or a big grey Christmas elf. The look on his face is always a bit bemused as he provides a mix of very bad and very good news – depending on the testing/hospitalization/death numbers of the day. He’s a doctor, a scientist. I’ll always feel that he knew what he’s talking about and I was confident about what he was saying – with the memory, also, that many didn’t believe or trust him.
• Finally, I’ll remember — as this historic year slumped to conclusion – how convinced I was that 2021 was going to be better, had to be better . . . because it couldn’t be any worse.