What We Missed In 2020
What We Missed In 2020 By The Federalist Staff for The Federalist
The Federalist staff and writers spent some time thinking over what we’ve missed in 2020: big things, little things, surprising things. What are yours?
The lockdowns didn’t bother me, at first. I am a homebody who is almost never at home, so an enforced pause to the relentless pace of travel, work events, and social engagements was something of a welcome relief. I don’t need to see people to “see” people, I told myself. Virtual check-ins and trivia nights with friends became a weekly occurrence. On Easter, my mom directed all of the cooking done in my house and those of my siblings from her laptop, on Zoom.
I can still tolerate less human interaction than most (introverts everywhere, unite!). But it is the sweet and carefree intangibles of co-existence that I deeply, achingly miss. Squeezing onto a barstool next to a girlfriend at a crowded bar. Picking up a dropped set of keys for my neighbor. Passing around a bottle of wine while sitting in the grass at a lazy summer picnic. Warm embraces. A firm handshake.
To the extent that any of these things still happen, they are draped in a pall of suspicion, anxiety, and judgment. We are a people in the grip of a pathological fear, which we eagerly project into condemnation. It is less that we cannot see one another; it is more that we are scared to death of one another.
The small gestures of our humanity — the ones that transform us from strangers into fellow travelers — have lost their meaning and vitality, falling away like the dead, shriveled leaves in a year-long winter. I miss them terribly.
While for most of America and the world 2020 proved exceedingly challenging, for me it has actually been easier in many ways. As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom caring full-time for an 11-year-old with cystic fibrosis and asthma, not much changed for us following the start of the pandemic, other than watching the rest of the world adapt to our infection control protocols. However, to further safeguard our son from COVID, as a family we decided my dear husband would take over my public errands, meaning my least favorite chore of grocery shopping became his least favorite chore.
My days became easier too when the local courts moved to online hearings, allowing me to “attend” court on behalf of my pro bono client without the hassle of coordinating work schedules with my husband. I also enjoyed the benefit of having taught on Zoom for more than ten years in the evenings for graduate students, so there was no difficult transition for me, unlike other faculty members adjusting to a new format.
While the day-to-day became easier, COVID meant forgoing trips to see my elderly mother out of state, where she lives with my older brother’s family. Frankly, now as I pondered 2020, I realize I’ve been living the year in denial that I may never see her again: She’s 91, has severe dementia, and her heart is losing steam—both physically and, with my father dying last year, emotionally.