One year ago, in the Year That Wasn’t, I was in a hospital tent trying to breathe, in isolation trying to distract myself with bad football, trying to make it to 2021 because my God how could that be any worse.
Overall this year was better, being alive not the least of the positives. We have vaccines, we have (a little) more sanity in DC, we have fans back in the stands. We had Wandavision and a new season of Ted Lasso. We had live music again, Dave Grohl sweating his ass off again. Marvel destroying the box office again.
We got together, with masks and then without. We celebrated and reminisced about the Before Times, when we used to do our own grocery shopping and pickup our own takeout. When online learning was an option, not an expectation. When we worked in offices, not in sweatpants in that spare bedroom no one ever used.
It was a year of Once Agains and Remember Whens. Of science breakthroughs and NFTs and spaceships for the rich. It was a year full of more normal than not, whatever normal means now.
2021 was a year to exhale, to reflect, to wonder. And I do.
I wonder if the end of 2021 is just the beginning of a new wave of uncertainty. I wonder if we learned anything at all from 2020, from the election and the insurrection, from the scientists who gave us hope and the health care workers who risked their lives for strangers.
2021 was a year of wonders and wondering. We moved forward and then moved back to new variants and renewed resistance to taking precautions, to protecting ourselves and others. We’re “over it,” we say. We did this already, in 2020. We won’t do it again.
Disinformation still flows, from Fox to Facebook, from Tucker and Taylor-Greene and to every stop on the train through Crazy Town. We are still divided, still don’t trust each other, still discriminate and still hate and still murder each other Every. Fucking. Day.
So I wonder, as we close Year One after the worst year in generations, will Year Two, 2022, be any better. Will we be any better. Can we finally move forward — because if this year taught us anything, it’s that there’s no going back.