#LookingBack at 2020

by Betsy Ashton

Betsy Ashton, born in Washington, DC, was raised in Southern California where she ran wild with coyotes in the hills above Malibu. She protested the war in Vietnam, burned her bra for feminism, and is a steadfast Independent. She is a writer, a thinker, the mother of three grown stepchildren, companion and friend. She mentors writers and writes and publishes fiction. Her first mystery, Mad Max Unintended Consequences, was published in February 2013. The second in the series, Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, came out in April 2015. In her spare time, she is the president of the state-wide Virginia Writers Club. She loves riding behind her husband on his motorcycle. You’ll have to decide for yourself if and where she has a tattoo.

January 6, 2021

Do you remember…Oh, stop rolling your eyes. This is not an “OK, Boomer” post. It’s about 2020. Do you remember when being in quarantine was cool? When we first heard about this new thing called the novel coronavirus, we ignored it. What’s that? Why was it called novel? It wasn’t because someone wrote a book about viruses. It was novel because it was new, unknown. We learned to call it COVID.

We rallied together once we realized how fast this beast spread. Kinda like we did after 9/11. We wore masks. We wore gloves. We stood six feet apart. We washed our groceries and quarantined our mail. We washed the skin off our hands.

So back when quarantining was cool, we applauded health care workers in cities at their shift changes. We banged pots and pans, clapped, and cheered these front-line warriors. We sang from balconies to lift spirits.

We looked for solace in music. Yo-Yo Ma recorded solos on the cello and posted them on YouTube free. Other musicians followed, posting new music and live favorites. Some recorded complete new albums in their home studios. Thank you, Bruce. 

Long-planned activities were upended, only to be replaced by drive-by parades: graduations, birthdays, funerals. Yes, even drive-by funerals. We made lemonade when we wanted Cabernet. We found ways to honor friends and neighbors without endangering them.

We laughed with a father and daughter who dressed up to walk the dog. When schools went virtual, this duo turned to the silly. They dressed up as Jake from State Farm and Flo from Progressive, as Star Wars storm troopers, paid homage to Indiana Jones, were Doritos. I think they missed tea bags and M&M’s, both of which became long-ago Halloween costumes for me and a friend. 

Classes adopted pen pals in long-term care facilities, hand writing letters and making birthday cards. They visited through glass and played Tic-Tac-Toe on nine-paned windows. They gave the gift of time and caring. They brought the school band for impromptu concerts.

We learned to Zoom, when that word became a verb, not the name of an app. We learned not to lean in too close, or our friends could look  up our noses. Yuck. We learned to wave, send virtual hugs, and connect. Every couple of weeks, my husband and I Zoom with my cousin and her husband near Burlington, VT. We talk about our week before turning to books we’ve read, things in the news that concern us. Every Sunday, I Zoom with my daughter born to a different mother. She lives in Kolkata and is now recovering from COVID. Zoom doesn’t replace face-to-face contact, but it maintains connections.

And now, with the New Year on our doorsteps, I’ve been collecting how my friends are going to celebrate without being together. Six long-time friends are celebrating with Champagne. One glass for each of the five time zones where they live. New York starts it with a glass; Chicago joins an hour later, with NY raising another glass. Denver joins Chicago and NY, followed by San Francisco, Anchorage, and Hawaii. Count that. Five time zones, five glasses of Champagne. My NY friends will be smashed before they get to SF!

Others are having live black-tie parties via Zoom. Couples will dress in their finest, listen to music from one Zoomer, dance, and toast the New Year.

It’s all about attitude. We need to look closer to our feet to see things we’ve ignored. We have time. Look for that fungus growing on a dead log, one you never noticed but which has been there for years. Watch earthworms emerge from frozen ground after the first rains. Smell the mud, the dust, the flowers.

2020 might not have met our expectations, but we can reset them for 2021. It’s all about what we want 2021 to be. I for one am looking for fresh experiences, whether it’s a new fungus or the reopening of my favorite restaurant for outdoor dining or finishing my next book.

Here’s to a great 2021!
Betsy out

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  1. Dave

    I enjoyed reading your post on 2020. Have you ever been told, “You have a way with words?” Kinda think maybe so….?

    • Betsy Ashton

      Thanks. Always nice to know I’ve reached someone who enjoys my “way with words.”