January and February and everything after

2 Jan

Luckily, 2020 is already receding quickly from memory, and living with my parents becomes just another fact of life for me. But a year ago I was attending a New Year’s Day fitness class at Barry’s Bootcamp, taking a Lyft from my apartment to get to the Castro district location, then walking back to 17th and Castro, where I waited for a 24 Divisadero bus to take me over the hill towards home. Well, first I probably stopped and had lunch at Dara Indian, because stopping in there after a workout and stuffing my face with vegetable curry and rice and chai is what I liked to do. It was part of that nice little city life routine I had worked out for myself. It wasn’t grand, but it was part of the rhythm of my days. It broke about two months into 2020, and it now feels like a very distant memory. Walking down Castro Street to pick up coffee in the Castro, or walking in the other direction to stroll 24th Street in my neighborhood, Noe Valley. I guess one thing these recollections have in common is independence. Freedom. The freedom to encounter familiar face, neighbors, the occasional tourist with a map and a camera. In February, I bought Girl Scout cookies from a young girl towing her cookies in a red wagon in front of the Castro Theater. I took Muni to Cole Valley to meet girlfriends at Padrecito for margaritas and Mexican food on the night of the California primary election. On our way out, I stopped to excitedly tell a couple at a table near us that I had also voted for Elizabeth Warren (one or both of them were wearing Warren caps, the memory fades for me a bit, but I remember at least one khaki baseball cap). I waited in the cold with my friends until we all got Lyfts and Ubers home. And that cold, February night was the last night any of us would see each other for a long time. I haven’t seen them since.

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of positive reflections of people feeling gratitude for the lessons taught by 2020. I feel enormously grateful for making it through my summer of physical rehab, which also feels like a distant dream, like something that will just be a bit of trivia in no time. Yes, we should thank the year that’s passed for teaching us what’s important, what we value. What we miss. For me, that’s other people. It’s the friends and coworkers who made up my days, but also the hundreds of people who make up daily life- the commuters packed into a morning Muni car, the people jammed into cafés in the morning, packed restaurants at lunch, crowded bars at Happy Hour where I’d gather with coworkers to talk about anything and everything non-work related. The common thread was people- everywhere, at all times. Sometimes loud, sometimes annoying, but always there. It’s the crowds and strangers I miss, the ones I’ll be happiest to see when life comes crawling back. People. They’re what I won’t take for granted in 2021.

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