Slap-happy New Year


Slap-happy New Year

I’ve seen in memes across social media, we can now use “2020” to describe anything that is particularly devastating, and relentless in its ability to deliver wreckage. We used to use the phrase “2020 hindsight” to mean it’s always easier to tell the future when you’re looking back at the past. 

Now, 2020, used as an adjective, noun or verb, is all about disaster, carnage and the longest, least pleasurable carousel ride any of us have been on. A never-ending obstacle course of shock, uncertainty, and discord. Add a very fraught presidential election to the mix, and we are all on edge these days. Rightly so.

Still, I feel like an article outlining my woes or recounting the difficulties faced in my corner would be unappreciated, boring, and disrespectful to those who’ve really, truly suffered. Instead, I’ll go against my longstanding policy of commitment to realism and write about the bright side. 

Early June was a low point for me, but after that, things have slowly and steadily improved. I guess that was when the enormity of the situation, my unrealistically cheerful adjustment to massive and unexpected change, and not being alone, not once, for more than two months, finally hit me.

After that, I gained a more reasonable attitude toward pandemic life and lowered pretty much all of my expectations. I examined what I used to get out of being so busy and so devoted to having a social life. I asked myself an important question: “Am I really an extrovert?” 

The answer surprised me. Yes, I’m an extrovert, but a little socializing goes a long way. I’m content at home. I feel free now to embrace a minimalist approach to my social life and it is quite a relief.

Another good thing that has happened is that, without my other social obligations, I’ve had a lot of time to spend with my kids. Granted, their constant eating is a challenge, but having them home more is, for me, a positive. I have no doubt they’d rather be at school with their friends, but that’s not the scenario, so I’ll take what I get. My 17 year old finds me more irritating every day, but puts up with my company because she doesn’t have a lot of other options; my 13 year thinks I’m hilarious and tons of fun, as long as I’m not bugging her to do dishes or clean her room. 

Speaking of my 13 year old, she and many of her 8th grade friends have been blessed with the chance to experience puberty without an audience. My daughter has grown at least 4 inches since March 2020 and her feet are the same size as mine now. Nobody’s teasing her about how she looks or what she wears or giving her a hard time in the band room. For the first half of 7th grade, way back in 2019 and early 2020, she came home from school every day in tears – a combination of the band room chaos, hunger, and a sweaty bike ride home. She still has plenty to grumble about, but it’s more varied.

My family sort of adopted a cat. We are still not sure if he belongs to us or not, but we feed him and let him sleep in our house all the time. I might have splurged on some cat toys, purchased flea medicine, and am looking for a cat bed that will go with my décor. It’s possible we are more committed to owning him than he is to being owned by us, because every night he takes off for parts unknown. I guess he’s out there in the dark chasing racoons and/or running from coyotes for hours. But it has been many years since I had a pet and I forgot how happy it is to have an animal family member. 

I had knee surgery. I’m not saying it’s been fun, because it’s been quite the opposite. But I had the time, I didn’t have anywhere to go anyway, and every member of my family has been on-site to fetch and carry for me while I have been immobilized. The catering has been unpredictable, though I haven’t gone hungry – Fritos and peanut butter are not such a bad breakfast, after all. The facilities are more than comfortable and the service has been exceptional. Five stars.

We had a built-in reason to keep the holidays simple. We missed some of our usual traditions, but not the stress of overspending, overeating, and events on overdrive. 

I am keeping my expectations low for 2021 – it seems radical acceptance is my best coping skill. Besides chocolate. And a little hope. I wish the Parking Industry and the whole world a Happy New Year.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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