Well, probably nothing will actually be different.
A few weeks ago I was on a conference call with some writer friends and we were talking about how anxious we are for the new year. For the turning of the page. For 2021 to arrive. For everything to be different.
"Well, probably nothing will actually BE different," one of my friends remarked, and in that instant I felt an unmistakable wave of terror, as I realized:
Oh dear God. That's right. NOTHING WILL CHANGE.
Let's face it. We spent the last few weeks white-knuckling it, waiting for January 1 like an antidote to the poison we'd all overdosed on in the previous 11 months. But as 2020 became 2021, the virus stayed among us like an unwelcome guest. The surges have continued. Quarantines and travel restrictions have remained in place. The traditional New Year's Eve and New Year's Day plans were canceled in favor of staying away and staying in. We couldn't celebrate or socialize or even hug each other.
January 1 has arrived looking very much the same as the days we'd wished so hard to escape from.
Only it isn't.
As the clock ticked down to midnight last night, I found myself on my Instagram page, scrolling back to the previous January 1, trying to summon some of that pre-pandemic bliss and happiness that we all keep telling ourselves we were feeling just before the world shut down, and that's when I realized:
Oh thank God. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.
I know we keep telling ourselves that everything was so much better before. That the sacrifices and grief we've experienced in 2020 have rocked us to our core and that that's a bad thing. That we want things to go back to the way they used to be - that we need things to just go back to being "normal."
But you guys, that's kind of a lie.
I mean, maybe you had some self-awareness and maturity that I lacked this time last year. I don't discount that possibility. But as for me, I was downright ridiculous. Taking all sorts of things for granted. Certain I'd be able to carry out my planned live book tour for I KNOW HOW THIS ENDS, and cart my kids around to their spring sports. Certain I'd spend all the relevant holidays with my parents and attend really big parties in really crowded places. The picture I posted on social media on January 1, 2020, was egregiously wrong. I was in Disney and I was all "Yay 2020. Here we goooooo."
I mean. Seriously, for the actual love of everything. (For the record, I was wearing sunglasses in that horrifying New Year's Day post, which seems fitting, because I have to believe if you could have seen my eyes, you'd have known I was lying about everything - and especially knowing just how great 2020 was going to beeeeeee.)
In reality, 2020 had the same chance of falling flat on its face as 2021 does. Only, I wasn't smart enough to realize it then. To prepare for it. To level with myself. And that's not a pessimistic viewpoint, because if you've met me, you know, I'm a glass-is-half-full-at-all-times-don't-you-dare-tell-me-it's-not kind of girl.
It's just that we don't KNOW what the new year has in store for us, just as we didn't know what 2020 had in store for us, and to pretend otherwise is silly.
But here's what's not. Silly, that is.
Resolving to stop taking every damn thing for granted. Resolving to love fiercely and be loved in return and be a good, no a GREAT, friend, and writing the stories that haunt us, and traveling every single chance we can - even if it's to an outdoor, socially distanced event (actually, especially if it is!) and hugging our parents every single chance we get, and getting vaccinated, and planning a little, but not a lot, and recognizing every single minute that we're just not as smart as the universe at the end of the day.
I guess what I'm trying to say is: It's true that as of today, everything is exactly the same as it always was.
Everything, that is, except US.
Which is honestly, if you think about it - the best news of all.
Happy New Year, you guys. LET'S GOOOOOO.