It was a good joke, and I couldn’t help chuckling to myself to think about how the Fates must get a kick out of watching us. I was re-reading my goals and resolutions from last year. I had planned to run the Boston marathon in April. That rug was pulled out from under me early due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Erie marathon, which I’d also signed up for January first of ’20 was cancelled next. We then cancelled the family vacation. We were to go to an amusement park and historical area. It became just an unrealized plan, a daydream, like the others. Now I was sitting before a blank page with my pen poised above it, trying to think about what I should write for January 2021.
The surprises of the pandemic were things I hadn’t written about. In January of 2020, I had no idea that instead of watching the kids play lacrosse, we would be playing family games of foursquare, complete with smack talk, so delectable that I raced home from work and we finished dinner early so we could start, and then play team Canasta next. I didn’t know that I’d strain my hamstring as a result of jumping around from side to side during the foursquare game, and that the injury would take the sting out of missing my races. I didn’t know that as a result of being injured, I would see, really see, the gorgeous farmland that is only a mile or two from my house, because I walked it and didn’t run it, and I could hear the birds and the crickets without listening to my headphones. I didn’t know that because I couldn’t run, I’d embark on a mission to build up my core by listening to Cassey Ho, whose blogilates workouts burned and shredded and made me stronger.
I hadn’t known that the kids would laugh good humoredly at me when I turned up the volume and Cassey talked about her wedding stilettos. I hadn’t realized that I was acting just like the middle-aged mom in those Disney movies that we would watch as a family, because during the pandemic, I suddenly realized that the kids were getting older and we only had a little time together, and I was nostalgic and wistful for their childhoods, and they were willing to indulge me now. Maybe they knew I needed it.
I vowed to learn from the pandemic, not to waste any time, and to spend a little more time in thought and to stop worrying about meetings that were unnecessary, pleasing people I didn’t care for anyway. I learned that I could really pare down, I mean really pare down, and that the results of such paring down were good. And then our state moved back into the green zone, and I was elected Treasurer of our state organization, and there I found myself again, calling meetings and generating reports. Were they really necessary? And why was I doing this all over again, when I promised myself I wouldn’t?
So, January, you will not fool me twice. I will not list the things that I will accomplish. I will not have such hubris, such determination and doggedness to get things done. Besides, I learned a few things with my new companion, Curiosity. How did I know that my teenagers would be fun and spend time with us if I only did some of the things that they wanted to do? We learned how to play Canasta. We ate well, shrimp and steak and home-cooked meals, thanks to the others who had cleaned the shelves of pasta and rice when we all thought that the world was ending.
The Fates and January 2021, you wanted me to learn that I am more than my marathons, that our family vacations are just the mode of spending time together. My page is blank and my pen is poised because never before, in my years of writing, had I spent time on who I really wanted to be. I was always preoccupied with the things I wanted to do. January, you will not dupe me this year. I am looking out at the bright blue sky. I will be curious. I will be courageous. I will be flexible. I will be appreciative. Take that, Fates, I think to myself as I see the sun glinting off the sparkling snow, lying on the front yard. I put my pen to paper and I start to write.