December 31, 2020
So long, 2020. Don't let the gravity hit you on the way out.
It would hardly be interesting to sit here and talk about how the last year was unprecedented or didn't go as expected. Of course it didn't. No one set out last January to spend most of the year inside, away from our family and friends, and waiting on a miracle to come. In fact, lots of people just didn't do that, and really messed things up for those of us who did.
But I don't want to talk about what went bad. I want to talk about what went well.
I got a dog.
Since I was little, but more seriously since I graduated college, I've wanted to get a dog. I've spent countless hours thinking about which breed, or which characteristics, or finding reasons why I shouldn't bring a dog in to my life. Right out of college, my place was too small and I didn't think it would be a good plan. When I moved back to Indianapolis, I didn't live in a dog-friendly house. Then I started travelling for work. But that all is in the past - I own my place, and I'm not heading up to Minneapolis any time soon. Perfect time to start raising a dog.
So, I found Ruthie, a goldendoodle. Ruthie was born on September 23rd, and came home with me November 18th. She's a very typical puppy - up a few times a night, explosive fits of energy mixed with long bouts of sleep, and kind of bitey. Ruthie has a wavy coat of beautiful golden hair, and is finishing 2020 at just about 10lbs, halfway to her estimated weight of 20lbs. As I write this, she's been about two weeks without an accident inside the house, but doesn't do so well when not glued to my side. We've been playing it pretty close to home since she, like me, is not yet fully vaccinated, but will adventure out just as soon as we can.
I've learned a lot from Ruthie already. First, my world was more flexible than I realized. I am a person who likes a routine, and she broke most of them. I've become better about not constantly checking Slack or email since I'm focused on her a good amount (and the work world has yet to explode because of it). There's still much more to learn, and the start was rocky, but I think we're getting on, and more great to come.
I didn't get the virus.
That's pretty, good, right? I made a lot of sacrifices - as many of us did - but I chose to proiroitize being more isolated to keep my parents in my bubble. It took a while, but I became comfortable with going back in to stores and being around people. I learned that much like how I feel about snow days, I don't mind being alone as long as it's my decision.
And it paid off. Despite one specific concern (which was for ultimately for naught), I managed to, so far, avoid the virus. I know I'd probably be fine, but it's a risk I don't want to take. I'd also really like to ge the antibody test just to see if I ever actually did get it. And as vaccines go, I can't get in line soon enough, but I will wait until it's my turn, because I know I'm not the most at risk or in need of it. That said, I want it the first day I can get it, and specifically one of the mRNA vaccines.
I became an inadvertent expert.
I've been working from home for six years now, so when the rest of the world joined me and a few of my teammates at work, we became overnight experts in the work-from-home lifestyle. I've thought (and written) about my thoughts of work from home, including the original rules I set for myself, but for a lot of folks, this was new and insightful. And, fair enough - I chose to do this and had a lot of time to plan my situation, and it was voluntary. I've tried a lot of things and revised a lot. And it was my pleasure to share and help others adjust.
My hope, specifically for my current employer (but why not everyone) is that we come out of this looking at work truly as something we do, and not somewhere we are. Coming out of the holidays last year, there was talk of not needing a formal command center for this year's holiday, but we proved it, surviving peak season remotely from our homes. If the busiest week in retail can be operated remotely, why not the other 51 weeks? This is also not an indictment of the office, nor a declaration that I'll never step foot back in. I just want it to not matter, and that's so easy to get to now. Every meeting should be accompanied with a Zoom (or equivalent), and every in-person meeting room or workspace should have a camera and screen. That's really it! This has worked on teams I've been on before, and there's no reason it can't scale to the company.
I was social.
Responsibly, of course, and that's not to say I wasn't beforehand. What I mean here is I got to participate in things I wouldn't have otherwise been able to. My friends are spread out across the country, and not being near them all the time have made it so I miss birthdays, or in the case of work, happy hours. Moving those online was weird, but made it so I could participate in things I'd otherwise have missed. It's not the same, and it's no replacement, but I'd take a Zoom birthday party over nothing.
With this came a renewed appreciation and love for my friends and family. It's so easy to take for granted things that are easily accessible, but the temporary distancing of them makes it all the better when we can connect, and all the sweeter when we get to be together again.
In other respects, 2020 gave me a new opportunity to meet new people, with a different set of rules than before. Specifically, dating. When everything is virtual, maybe proximity - or distance - isn't as important as it once was. I'm not one to say too much more about that here, but it's still part of my 2020.
I was hopeful.
Every day for the last four years, I've come down for lunch, turned on the news, and looked for what new mess the president got us in to. That stopped, finally, in November. After the millions of votes were finally counted, recounted, and counted a third time in some cases, it was clear that we're going to move on to better things. I'm here for it. I've never been terribly political, but I do care about America's standing in the world, and believe that government has a role in our lives, which has been sorely lacking over the last four years. I'm hopeful that President Biden will bring change that lasts longer than the next four years.
I'm also hopeful for the vaccine. I wanted to believe humanity could come together and fight this shared adversary we have, and in a way, we did. Going from identification to vaccine in under a year is unheard of, and a true win for science. I'm hopeful that the vaccine will make its way through the population, and the day will come when I can travel again, or shake hands with a new acquaintance, or hug a friend. It may not be what it was before, but that's fine with me. Have you every really thought about the tray tables on an airplane? They were gross before, we just ignored it. Maybe now they'll be cleaner. I don't want to wear a mask everywhere, all the time, but I don't think that's how this ends.
Like I said, I don't want to fixate on the bad - and there was plenty. The last year was shit, but it was worse because it caught us off guard. We have a fighting chance with 2021, if for no other reason than we get a new start to be different. And it won't be overnight (though if I woke up tomorrow and there was no virus, fine with me), but there's merit to creating a new cycle and drawing a line between old and new. The next new will be great, or at least, hopefully, won't be as bad as the old.
See you next year. And 2020, get lost. We're done with you.