one of my best friends says i’m good at timelines. she calls me her memory. she said that sometimes, just for fun, she says that she says that something happened in 2008, without worrying too much about whether or not it happened then. anyway, here’s my 2020.
january started with a moment of cowardice on an amtrak train (it was actually late december, but it weighed on me for a long time), eating gluten and regretting it but also how could i not eat pierogis in a dive bar in chicago, two tattoos by LB, going to the lake with LB and heather, watching LB and lucas dance on new year’s day. chicago was cold but i was warm in my jacket. went to NY and pittsburgh and had such a great time with everyone. highlights include nearly dying on the BQE (ok not really, but that car was really about to break down right there), finishing a quilt in 3 weeks with a little help from nearly everyone i met, and falling in love with the show work in progress and making pretty much every vaguely interested person watch it with me.
the house i lived in got sold while i was away. the person who bought it was mainly interested in the other house on the lot, not the shitty leaky barn in which my partner and i lived, but they were a package deal. it was bought by a woman who’d brought along a sketchy man while they were touring our house, and he’d made jokes about evicting us and making us homeless. just as casual conversation! i was upset about the sale and i read my tarot cards and they basically said, come home. not to the stupid barn, to pittsburgh. i felt warmed. i still wanna come home. i’m not sure how.
in february our scarcity issues were brought up and held front and center, we searched for a house, we found one but not without drama, i got sick and remained so for a while because i never got to rest. we did that terrible thing that sounds like a great idea where you say, “i’m not going to have a moving day, i’m going to move things over slowly, carload by carload!” this meant we moved for two weeks. in february, like the february before it, it rained a lot and i cried often. i have pretty bad seasonal affective disorder and get very hopeless when the sky is gray. the theme of my crying was, “why the fuck did i survive everything in my life….for this bullshit?”
we grew obsessed with the tv show love is blind, even though it’s almost unbearably stupid.
in march, i felt a little better. my grip started slipping on my sobriety, which i’d mostly held onto for a year. i had a delicious afternoon, walking to the library to do homework, where i spontaneously decided to buy a golden state hard cider at the convenience store on the way and drink it tucked into a rotting redwood stump on campus. the sun was setting over the highway and i felt like a happy little gnome. i felt like my truest self, doing something that i wasn’t supposed to be doing, witnessing something beautiful that most people weren’t noticing. meaningful songs kept shuffling onto my ipod and i had that delicioussad feeling of nobody knows where i am (except the people on campus avoiding the gaze of the person drinking in a stump, of course). the feeling of being connected with the universe. the feeling that, no matter how much i might try to pretend otherwise, this is actually just who i am.
spring break came. my classmates and i said “see you next week!” and we never saw each other again. my partner and i went on a trip to portland that we would have not embarked upon had we left one day later. we watched the world shut down around us, a little more every day. we checked in with our hosts frequently, washed our hands a lot, drove to a bar that was making hand sanitizer, because you couldn’t get hand sanitizer anywhere. i hung out with people outside. we weren’t wearing masks yet. it was still a lot more fun than we would have had back home.
during normal times, i absolutely hate hand sanitizer. in march, i realized it was time to start using it.
when i got the email that in-person classes were cancelled for the rest of the semester, i broke out in applause. when i got the email saying i was going to be pulled from my internship, i fought my school. i had been providing therapy to people for a while and to leave them would cause harm. they gave me two weeks. it was really hard. talking on the phone all day with people who were very anxious and for very good reason. what can you say? what can you do?
we talked a lot about radical acceptance.
i used stay-at-home orders as an excuse to relapse completely. i had been sewing a lot before quarantine but i really ramped it up. i spent a lot of time day-drinking, avoiding schoolwork as much as i could, and sewing. i borrowed a sewing machine, which i had never used before, and learned how to make masks. it was a frustrating and back-hurting process, perfect for drinking. i screamed in frustration and my partner fearlessly showed me what i was doing wrong, so gentle, giving me the knowledge i needed to go forward, no judgment, no blame. it was a small moment that changed my life forever, just seeing the possibilities, seeing how different life could have been.
we had a routine of watching the BBC world news at 7:30 and then screaming with our neighbors at 8pm. one guy got on his roof and howled at the moon. i felt feverish, a weird surge of something like patriotism. i was ready to be deployed to hospitals, nursing homes, anywhere. i felt chill about possibly dying. a psychic once told me that i’d been a doctor in victorian england. i died young because one of my patients got me sick, and i died without regret, because it had been what i wanted to do, and i have always felt that way about the work i chose to do, and it was times a million. i was so ready to go out and fight but my skills were not needed, so i stayed at home and sewed frantically, for lack of any other way to contribute.
i had a zoom birthday party because my birthday is in april and people weren’t yet sick of them. it was a little nerve-wracking but i think it was fun! we went and got takeout for the first time since the shutdown and ate it at the graveyard in trinidad, ca. we went for long walks every day in arcata. we walked around the graveyard down the street. we foraged for dandelion greens. i looked every day at the world and how much better it was doing without all of us.
i spent a lot of time thinking about how i’d spent my whole youth waiting for the apocalypse, feeling like i was running out of time; surrounded by other people also preparing for the apocalypse. it made me feel ready for that time, like i’d been waiting for it forever.
i put out the intention to move to sac and i moved there, really suddenly. my life changed, as it’s wont to do. the world changed, as it’s wont to do. i changed what i was doing every month or so–who was important to me, where i was working, how i was living.
sacramento was the bigger part of my year, but i spent most of it at work. a little of it wandering around, a little of it protesting, a little bit of it at my local grocery outlet having weird conversations with the cashiers. i heard a lot of bad stories at work. answered the phone a lot. it occupies a different space in my mind, so maybe i’ll write about it in a different entry.