By Anita Saesing
There are two weeks left of 2020, and I can’t tell if I’m excited, worried, or exhausted. Mustering enough holiday cheer to get me through the rest of the year is like having the gas light of a car scream “empty” as you try to coast into a gas station. If, by some miracle, you aren’t left stranded in traffic, you’ll clutch your debit card and pray you have enough money to buy gas. So here I am with the lyrics, “It’s the final countdown” blaring on my imaginary radio.
I have Christmas-related activities leading up to the big day, followed by my 27th birthday, then a New Year’s Eve movie night at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. This time last year, I was fa-la-la’ing my way through the most wonderful time of the year. This year, I feel as cuddly as a cactus and as charming as an eel. Can anyone blame me, though? This year has been one hell of a ride.
My friends and I comment about how future generations will learn about 2020 in their history books just as we learned about the American Revolution, the Great Depression, and World War II. In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. At the end of May, after the death of George Floyd, protests for racial equality erupted all throughout America. The message of those marches echoed the same values Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists fought for. As the economy cratered, millions struggled to keep their jobs as companies laid off and furloughed employees. Those who have managed to stay employed in 2020 are exhausted from trying to stay afloat. I’m not just talking about healthcare workers. My heart goes out to teachers, cleaning crews, grocery-store clerks, social workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, and the like. And let’s not forget those struggling to work remotely from home while educating their children.
The final blow 2020 has delivered comes in the form of social media. It was once my lifeline to the outside world, and now it’s like a car crash I can’t look away from. I have friends and family attacking one another on Facebook about politics and sharing misinformation about coronavirus. On Instagram, people reveal that they have been traveling and gathering despite CDC warnings. Sharing stories and snapping photos on Snapchat have lost their appeal to me. I’m at a crossroads of wanting to engage with my loved ones and preserving my sanity.
As I hold my breath for the next phase of my life, I mentally wrestle to be present this season. I know a future where Americans are free to roam in cities and gather in social scenes is near. There have been reports that Arizona has received a shipment of Covid-19 vaccines. With the news of what may turn out to be a scientific miracle, I need to wipe the bah humbug out of my heart. 2021 is around the corner, and I shouldn’t be a Scrooge in the New Year!
I can almost hear the music from live concerts. I can just about taste the food from my favorite, crowded restaurants. I can practically feel the embrace of my family and friends. Excitement wells up in me as I fantasize about packing a suitcase and returning to an airport. As annoying as people may find this, I will actually clap when the plane lands for the first time in my life. When the captain on that future flight comes on the overhead system and says, “Welcome to your destination,” I’ll know the next phase of my life has arrived. Until then, I will mask up and practice social distancing. I vow to keep my eyes on that prize and steer clear of Covid-19!
Anita Saesing has always been nomadic. She was born in California, but spent her teenage years in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Before she graduated from high school, an elderly couple from her previous apartment complex invited her to live with them in Arizona. Four days after her high school graduation, she packed her bags and joined them on their cross-country road trip. She spent her college years working at various places including a childcare center and hospital HR office. She was the first in her family to graduate debt-free from college. Anita graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Grand Canyon University. One day, she desires to live in Italy and “do as the Romans do.”