Well, THAT didn't go quite the way we planned, did it?
I suppose everyone has been saying that about 2020, and really, what else is there left to say?
On a psychological level, it is a relief to be out of last year. Even if the last day of December doesn't look any different than the first day of January, there is a certain peace I felt when I woke up that morning realizing I was no longer in 2020. Whether we like it or not, life is teaching us every single day. However, it is up to us whether or not we are learning anything. A year ago I was thinking and dreaming about everything I wanted to do in 2020. Some of my plans were fun and grandiose and adventurous, others were perfectly mundane. I work a lot and I had made up my mind to use more of my vacation days and just go shopping. Yes, these would be the small moments I had resolved myself to do.
But there were big ones, too. New adventures. Every year my city holds Queer Prom for girls and boys and people of all genders who didn't get the prom experience they wanted when they were in high school. I had looked forward to going shopping for a beautiful, floor-length gown. Sparkly heels. The perfect accessories. I would have professional photos taken, I would go and dance and be beautiful. The disco lights would shine on my tiara. I would stay out late and have the night I had dreamed about since I first heard about prom. I'd go stag of course. :)
I wanted to "fly pretty", which is taking a flight en femme. I had dreamed of a vacation in a new city, a long weekend in a different place. This was something I never thoughtI would have the courage to do. I even had my outfit planned: a cute top, a flirty skirt, black stockings, and knee-high boots. Only a t-girl would plan her outfit for a flight a year in advance.
To me, 2020 was supposed to be about doing the impossible. But as we all know the year started to go in a very different direction. Events were cancelled, traveling was not advised, restaurants were closed. We could all name a million things that happened to ourselves, our families, our colleagues, our friends.
But what did we learn? We learned our worlds are fragile and how important our lives are. How essential getting a coffee from our favorite cafe was. The joy of simply wandering around a mall and trying on new clothes. Meeting a friend for lunch. Again, we could all name a million things...
As these things stopped becoming an option, we felt our lives, our little comforts and pleasures fade away. The small things that made us happy, things we looked forward to. We realized how much having dinner at our favorite restaurant meant to us. How crucial some of these things were for our happiness. I was reminded of how essential the things and the people in my life were to me. How I needed them. How they made me whole. How depressed I was without them. Not only was I missing the small things my life had, I saw the big things, the new things, become out of reach. I wasn't flying anywhere, no matter how pretty I was. Queer Prom was not happening. I missed the mall. I missed my friends. I missed new adventures.
Right now the world seems to be at the darkest point of the pandemic but at the same time, at the most promising. COVID cases, deaths, lockdowns, economic despair are their bleakest, despite several vaccines being developed and administered. Even though the days are terrible, I feel a little bit of optimism. Things could always get worse, but for the first time in a year I feel that these days will be behind us, though not quickly enough. We will turn a corner. Eventually.
As these little moments of hope grow, it's hard for me to not get excited about what the future will be like. The happiness I'll feel not wearing a mask in public, the simple joy of lunch with a friend. A hug. These simple, small things are what I daydream about. But this girl dreams big. What adventures will I have? What do I want to do when things are better?
But as big as my dreams get, they soon start to settle into smaller hopes and wishes. How long has it been since I tried on a dress at my favorite shop? Or shopped for lingerie at that cute little boutique? How is that friend doing that I haven't seen in a year? My heart which always wishes big is turning towards those tinier moments, the moments that don't have airplanes or limousine rentals.
We got through last year but we're still challenged by the biggest global event in recent memory. At the end of last year I was frustrated by how the year went. Besides the important things, I was selfishly frustrated by the lack of new experiences I had. I mean, surviving 2020 was an experience, a global pandemic is a historical event we're living in, but it's not something anyone wanted to go through. But after I spent a few days in the doldrums I realized how blessed and fortunate I am. This was not a time for self-pity, nor was it a time to be hard on myself. There's never a time for that.
As tempting as it is to plan and dream and set goals for the year, I am working hard to live a little more slowly, a little more joyfully, a little more one day at a time. We're not in a place yet where we can make long term plans, or schedule things too far out. It's too soon to buy a dress for an event that might not happen for a while.
Oh, buy the dress anyway.
The lives we have can be taken away so quickly. There were so many moments last year where I regretted not doing something prior to the pandemic. I may not be booking any flights or hotels at the moment, but I am not going to let something pass me by anymore. Whether it is a pair of heels or coming out to someone or... whatever is in my heart, I want to live my life because it's the only one I have. A life without regret seems challenging. Some say it's impossible. But doing the impossible now feels very different from what doing the impossible used to feel like.