2021 you were a year. Filled with the happy, the sad and all the real stuff.
First the easy, I learned how to cook for a reestablished family of four. I watched a lot of content from Tik Tok to whatever I could – some of it educational and some of it not so much. I’ve watched so much HGTV I’ve started to know interior decorating terminology. Ship Lap, you’re so 2019 and every room is made better with a crown molding, right?
I learned how to live with my sister as a grown woman and she with me which was fun, amazing but sometimes also not so great for either of us, but who knew that the wonder of being a sister to someone who is so truly special and good at caring for people in her social work would change everything between us. I am proud of being related to her. The post script is I hope she knows all the times I was really a-crappy-poking-at-her-like-baby-child 50-year old can be mitigated. The world is better because she’s out there and in it, fighting for it like the warrior she is and was born to be.
With her here, I also gained a nephew-son, as that’s what I am calling her son, known also as the cub, who is now mine for 12-24-48 hour periods as she keeps her heroic day job alive. I love him more than I ever knew was possible watching him grow from a kid to a man, even if he’s a weeny tweeny child sometimes. He’s a funny, quirky, special soul. I am pretty honored he’s going to have a little bit of my stamp on him now, even if he’s picked up my snarky one liners. Goodness it makes me laugh to have my own humor made over to his brand. Is this what motherhood feels like? I get it now. I get it just the way I always thought I was supposed to, not 100% my kid, but I guess I am influencer after all.
I got a lot of time with my mother, as I watched and held the hands of too many friends who lost their own parents this year. I know this is more precious than I even know yet. Some day, never if I could ask for that really, when she’s not here with me, I will have these memories of the last 18 months of weirdness and our voluntary house arrest to avoid this dumb plague and they will comfort me like a blast of warmth from her soul. I am not being sad, she’s ninety one, I face this truth a bit afraid, but certainly with an attempt not to be wasteful. It helps that she may be legally blind and arthritis has twisted her spine, still making new art, kayaking all the while being both hilarious and maddening. She’s amazing.
And on that topic, I was present and beside my friends as they suffered some impossible hurts. It’s been indeed a year of painful endings, cruel reality and loss. I won’t dwell on it – you know who you are – but this crazy time touched and changed so many of my dearest ones. There’s been a lot of emotional Band-Aids and glue required. Mended well but with some cracks.
Just in case, you’re feeling this is trending the wrong way for a sum of up of a terrible but also not so terrible year, here’s the gravy of the year. If you don’t like gravy, think of it instead as the cream. If you don’t drink dairy or eat animal fat, good news, 2021 made oat milk go mainstream, there’s something in this for you still.
That’s your humor intermission, ready to move on?
I triumphantly turned 50 – and guess what, it’s not the new goddamn 30. It’s FIFTY and that’s amazing, stop with this it’s what it isn’t. It’s a lot of years and a lot of events, MORE than enough on it’s own. It does not need to be recast as all the lost youth and missed things that cannot be gotten back. That’s just depressing and well gross. I don’t even want to be me at 30, she was annoying and needed more life lessons, so thanks for that universe, I persevered and I do feel rewarded.
I traveled to Iceland again and finally saw my family in Miami. I needed to remember airports, planes, being weightless in the sky and just being other places. I love the Berkshires but I needed time out. My battery was at it’s lowest travel setting after all – factory reset required.
Mostly this year, I worked and worked some more and it was booking, rebooking, booking again, talking about booking and then rebooking again. Travel work wasn’t so much fun but I have a bunch of the best work brothers, sisters, children and people that anyone could ask for in a work place. Forged in fire, we faced daily, hourly sometimes, chaos and change, the kind of adversity together, laughing, fighting, crying all the while, that bonds forever.
I interrupt this post to state don’t fool yourself into thinking drinking the right amount of water, sleeping, makeup and a good style of your hair, hair cut or dye job doesn’t make the difference on zoom. It does. There’s no filter that fixes mental and physical health. You look better when you take care of yourself, that’s a warning, not a reminder.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do some really important things this year. I didn’t write more than paragraph long texts and endless emails. Sitting in front of this keyboard was somehow attached to drudgery and so it didn’t happen, but I did try. I found a life coach, I thought about what the next five – ten years could be. I loved but moved on from some relationships which I am usually too nostalgic to do. Some of us found our way back to each other which was some midnight hour magic this past month. Some of us won’t and that’s ok too.
In summary, I learned I passionately love my family, I do not hate my job, and a lot more about what I need to fix to keep loving and doing that but guess what, it’s a brand new year… and well, it was the darkest time of our collective lives, not to be dramatic, but to be dramatic, I did ok after all is said and done, looking back.
Pandemics are something!? Who knew? I am kidding, we all knew and now we really know again.
Perhaps, I should have asked my grandmother who was a young woman in 1918 many more questions. Mimi, what was it like to feel that doom every day and how did you get over it? what did it teach you?
She actually really did know all those answers and she also knew what finding your way out of that doom was really like and here’s why. The truth of my story is my sister and I, my cousins are forever tied to that flu pandemic and so 2021 and 1921… well, they are forever connected. We were all born because of some twists of fate and a river full of karma that followed those years.
By 1921, some of the seeds planted in the 1918 pandemic had taken root. By 1922, well, the rest is history, the wheel had turned and her future was set. The death of a beloved wife from that terrible flu, three lonely children, lead a heartbroken man, who lost his brother in the same flu outbreak, to an independent beautiful, spirited, headstrong woman who threw sense away, fell in love with his wit, his sparkle and had three more fierce and fiery children. That was my grandmother and one of those fierce and fiery children was my mother. A deep love forged in a time of uncertainty.
My grandfather wrote her love letters which we still have while she was courting him. I have decided to look at it that way. He begged her to reconsider, did she really want him? He didn’t believe he was enough but he was indeed the choice she wanted to make and made she did. She ruled his heart and his house through the depression, a world war, raising all six children as her own. No pandemic, no marriage. No marriage = no mother. No mother = no me.
From that pandemic to this one, hundred years on, here we are again. 2022. Perhaps like my grandmother, my own fate will be changed as well and perhaps like her, I kind of already know it has already started. Time will tell, like the butterfly wing that pushes air gently one place that swirls and twirls into a wave on the other side of the world, I have the map to this future. I just need to take all this new information, wisdom, knowledge and my amazing fellow explorers and together, all of us, we will find our way forward.