At last, there is good news on the horizon, a promise that a year dominated by politics and pandemic will soon be over. Politics never go away, but hopefully, the days will become calmer now that the November presidential election is finally over and a new administration is on the horizon. With two new vaccines rolling out, there also is hope that the pandemic will subside in the first half of 2021.
Election years are always difficult, but 2020 was a doozy. It was a brutal year in almost every way possible. People lost their jobs. Thousands lost their lives to COVID. Restaurants and bars, salons, schools and playgrounds, and retail businesses closed, then re-opened, only to shut down once again. Cruises, tours, and other travel vacations were canceled. Gyms, swimming pools, and indoor dining ceased operation. Throughout the year the pandemic continued to rise across the globe, affecting every one of us. We endured the nastiest presidential election of a lifetime.
With most schools and libraries closed, the digital divide widened between those who have home Internet access and those who do not. But even in the midst of politics and pandemic, people have found new ways to adapt. The children in my neighborhood have been creative, with sidewalk art and paper hearts in windows. One young neighbor continued to keep us entertained with his daily, later weekly, chalked jokes on the walkway to his house.
“Why couldn’t the bicycle stand up by itself? Because it was two tired.”
2020 was my year of writing postcards. Starting in March, I joined a postcard writing group supporting candidates in swing states for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. In the beginning, I wrote 20 postcards a week to voters in many states, including Arizona, Maine, Colorado, Georgia, and many others. Word got out to friends, who joined me in the effort, then family, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends. My 20 weekly cards turned into hundreds of cards, adding up to thousands sent. Who said that handwriting is a lost art?
Taking socially distanced, mask wearing walks with friends, one at a time within my “bubble,” provided relief from confinement, as did simple solitary walks in my neighborhood. Ocean Beach, Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio of San Francisco, and the Golden Gate National Parks Recreation Area all provided beautiful vistas and good exercise.
Summer and fall wildfires throughout the state took their toll on San Francisco, leading to unsafe air quality for days. We all stocked up on new air purifiers and waited it out indoors.
Last month, while hiking with a friend at Land’s End, which is part of the GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation Area), following a gorgeous trail along the hilly coastline, we encountered a group of eight to ten individuals, none of whom were wearing masks. Mask wearing in San Francisco is a mandate, and most runners, walkers, hikers, skateboarders, and cyclists observe the protocol. This group seemed happy and carefree, other than a few stragglers at the end struggling up the hill, admitting freely that they were tourists. Clearly, they were not “sheeple.” Ironically, though possibly unrelated, COVID rates started to rise in San Francisco within weeks following this encounter.
Collectively, we have found new ways of staying in touch with one another. Many of us shared Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays and events via Zoom. Facetime, e-mails and telephone calls with friends and family have become more frequent. Despite some personal losses of friends and family members this year, holiday greeting cards still arrived in abundance, with handwritten notes and typed letters. Lost or delayed packages are finally trickling in, thanks to the heroic efforts of the USPS.
We all want to return to some semblance of past normal, including seeing our friends and family in person after this very long year, filled with politics and pandemic. Finally, there is hope on the horizon. I am looking forward to a better tomorrow.