In the years that I had a desk job, often this week between Christmas and New Years was a time out of time. Many of my co-workers would take the week off, so the office was quiet. Some years we worked only half days. And ongoing projects were usually on hold, waiting to resume in January. I would use the time to go through my files and desk, deciding what needed to be kept and what I could discard – an activity I usually had no time for during the yearlong press of work.
The world turns on its axis and we transition from the old to the new.
It has been an odd year – one that makes many of us wish for normality. It began with the attempted coup in January. The political turmoil has continued through the year. It has been difficult to find inner peace while our country is awash in raw hate.
Increasing homelessness and increasing violence have taken a toll on the city. Portland was a vibrant city, with people living in and working in and enjoying the city center, but the pandemic and social disruption has shut down much of that vibrancy. And as the social fabric has been torn, more and more of the city is covered with graffiti. The disaffected are screaming at us.
Here in Portland we had an ice storm in February that downed many trees and knocked out power for days – a week and more for some of us – during bitter cold temperatures. Andrea and I moved in with her brother, since he has a wood stove and backup generator and we like spending time with him. When we came home, we began thinking about what we would need for the next time. Climate change is more evident each year, so the idea of “the next time” is more part of our thinking.
Prevailing winds during the spring and summer wildfires kept most of the smoke out of the area. Some of the smoke went as far as the east coast, but most days here the air remained breathable. The fires were farther away this year than the ones during 2020, when we had worried about our home burning.
And of course the pandemic. Andrea and I were able to get vaccinated early in the year, and we got boosters in October. We also got flu shots. We are of an age where we are considered far too susceptible to Covid. (I remember something about us at our age, even though being vaccinated, are 20 times more at risk than an unvaccinated 5 year-old.) And the isolation has been hard – hard on all of us. Even introverts are intrinsically social animals.
One of our favorite activities is taking roadtrips, but the pandemic has kept us home. In the late spring, during a lull in the pandemic, we had hoped to travel, but a couple of nights before we were to leave I blanked out while driving home. The doctors never found out why, and the incident scared us. We’ve wondered whether we will ever take another roadtrip. I had to give up motorcycling ten years ago, and that is still hard. Giving up roadtrips would be at least as difficult.
I feel like I’ve aged ten years in the last two. Andrea and I bought cemetery plots and made arrangements for burial. We hope there will be no need for them for quite a while, but it was somehow satisfying and reassuring to make the arrangements.
Our movie “Strictly for the Birds” got into the hands of a distributor this year, so we don’t have to do more than worry about it now. In early October it premiered in Philadelphia and was well received. We have hopes of it being in more festivals and being available to stream sometime this spring.
I finished my memoir “In Between” and published it. (tinyurl.com/KateB-InBetween) It too has been well received. Because I self-published it, it will take more work on my part to get the story out into the world. I think it is a story that needs to be told and will continue to work toward pushing it out.
It is abnormally cold here this week – but what is “normal” in this new paradigm? We haven’t lost power yet, so we are still warm inside and are feeling fortunate for that.
We have managed to stay healthy through the last two years, although we are lazier than had been our habit. There are a lot of people in this country still pushing us toward fascism, but they haven’t won it yet. And there is growing awareness of each others’ humanity, despite our differences. Perhaps we’ll make it to a better world after all.
And the world turns. A new year approaches. I wish you peace and happiness, health and safety, and even joy in the coming year.