As 2020 comes to an end at last this week, my husband V and I celebrate 14 years since our first date in Georgetown and reflect on hopes for next year.
I have enjoyed this holiday weekend cooking, baking, and daring to dream about 2021. As longtime readers of this blog know, we traveled. so. much. during our tours in Tashkent and Canberra. I racked up about 14 countries between 2015 and 2017 alone. And in 2019 we traveled thousands of miles all across Australia.
This year, other than driving over 2,000 miles to move to Mexico last summer, and a weekend trip less than 90 minutes away in New Mexico, I haven’t been literally anywhere since I returned from Ecuador a year ago this week.
On balance I am still lucky. I’m well aware that millions of Americans are unemployed, or spent Christmas alone for the first time in their lives. To be working and bringing home an income, even if I spend up to 12 hours a day in a mask, is something I cherish.
I am not so much complaining about the lack of travel as I am using it to highlight the oddity of this year in our lives. Something would have to be terribly wrong for us to not go see people who we love, let alone those who live nearby. What I am talking about is hope in general – hope to return to “normal” for ourselves, to a life we recognize – which, yes, involves traveling for fun, for work, and to see family. It also involves hugging friends and welcoming loved ones to our home, it involves going to the movies, and out to a bar or museum, and out to eat. And not interacting with other people like we all have the bubonic plague.
I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. Even if we get vaccinated at work, as is expected in January or February, life as we know it won’t actually return to normal right away. It still could be months, and within that timeframe, a lot of uncertainty, second-guessing, and fear. My job requires me to work with the public, to visit U.S. citizens in jail, in the hospital. When will it be safe to do that, especially for a severely immunocompromised person like me? I am assuming that, at some point in 2021, it will be safe to carry out a lot of “normal” activities if the majority of people are willing and able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
If it were up to me, here’s what my 2021 would look like.
V and I would get vaccinated, and so would all our loved ones.
I would have back surgery in January, and it would fix the horrible back pain and left leg neuropathy I’ve been struggling with for years. I would get my mobility and energy back.
Because gyms would reopen, I would be successful in my recovery from surgery and would lose all the weight I had planned to lose in 2020.
I would take my mask off at work, and meet the 100+ other people who work in the consulate who I’ve never met. We would start providing routine services again, and I would improve my Spanish.
We would visit my parents, my brother, and my niece, who I haven’t seen in a year and a half, and perhaps go to Macedonia to see V’s mom, who he hasn’t seen in about four years.
I would hang out with my dear friend K who lives in Texas. I would spend more time with my stepdaughters.
I would stop wondering if other people were safe, or if I was safe.
V and I would finally return to the Caribbean resort where we spent our honeymoon in 2013.
We would finish the house, and make it a place we are proud to welcome guests to.
We would start to get to know Ciudad Juárez, a city where we moved five months ago and of which we have seen next to nothing.
We would hire a housekeeper.
We would watch an economic rebound, and the return of women and people of color en masse to the workforce. We would see tremendous strides in gender equality and social and racial justice.
We would attend less and less virtual meetings, and have more face to face brainstorms.
We would see people around the world receive the vaccine and humanity would beat this virus. My family and friends would prosper and the broken hearts of millions of Americans would start to heal.
And I would start whitening my teeth again because, no more masks.
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My fingers are crossed.