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The Year That Everybody’s Heart Broke

It’s a weird thing. You know, the whole idea that this has been the most isolated and heart wrenching thing we’ll ever experience. There are so many weird things about it that I don’t even know where to begin, but one of the weirdest is the fact that we’ve all gone through this constantly intensifying state of isolation… but we did it together.

I’ve slept on writing this, because I’m scared it’ll hurt my heart too much to reflect on all that we’ve been through. Only a few words in and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep typing, but fuck it let’s give it a go anyway.

Anniversaries are a thing for a reason, because when you spend a year doing something - sometimes it’s worthy of a celebration. A year of anything takes a lot of work, no matter what it is - and my God does that ever ring true for the absolute shit show that we’ve been living through for the past what I can’t believe is 365 days. Now, I know I just used the word celebrate - but truthfully it’s impossible to celebrate the anniversary of the devastating aftermath of what the world has crumbled into between now and last March. If there’s anything to celebrate it’s the fact that you’re here, playing a montage of whatever the fuck just happened in your head over and over… but no matter how sad the footage may be in that horror movie in your head, you made it.

A really scary but real thing about all of this is that a lot of people didn’t make it, and a lot of people did and will never be the same because of it. Yeah I know they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” in a literal and figurative sense, and in many ways I believe that we’ll be better in certain ways because of this, but a lot of the time I feel like I’d be a hell of a lot stronger if we didn’t have to do this in the first place.

Everybody’s heart broke in some way this year. The degrees of severity in that sentiment vary to so many extents. Some people lost loved ones, some people lost their careers, their businesses that they’ve spent their entire lives building, and some people got the “easier” end of it - that end being the end to life as they once knew it. The simplicity of a less simple life. What I mean by that is, we really did slow down this year. We got a break from the hustle and bustle of the every day life we never thought we’d have a moment to come up for air from. For a lot of it the break may have been needed, but this far into it I think all of us would do anything to back to the hectic non stop bullshit we were dealing with before, because that bullshit and this bullshit are different, and I definitely preferred the latter.

I’m sorry for all the profanity, but fuck.

I’m not here to be negative. I’m not here to yell “woah is me” and “life sucks” and “what’s the point” - but I’m here to say if you’re mad, if you’re spent, if you’re at the end of your rope… you have every right to be. The end of that rope is dangling above all of our heads, and we’re standing underneath it together, with masks on, 6 feet apart. At the end of the rope.

It’s hard to believe what life was like before this. It’s hard to imagine showing up at a busy bar at 11pm with 10 of your sweatiest closest friends, geared up to maybe kiss a complete stranger, or shove your hand into a bowling ball or a communal bowl of popcorn and share it with someone that you’ve never met but fully be able to trust that it wasn’t potentially going to kill you. You never thought you’d have to miss lighting up a cross walk with your fingers, as opposed to the tip of your elbow through a sleeve and still feeling as though you may be infected.

It’s weird to imagine a life where you could walk into any given place without dropping your number to be contact traced, and then watching your phone during the days following for a call or a text letting you know that you are in danger, and you need to hunker down in your home for the next 14 days and hope to God this mystery disease doesn’t find its way into your realm because you accidentally got too close to the “wrong person”.

This sounds like a fucking script for a movie that I may have been interested in watching before all of this happened, but now it’s a groundhog day style film that we’re all sick to our stomachs from watching. My heart aches when I think of everything that we’ve been through, and it aches even more knowing that we don’t know when it’ll end.

I’m sure we all have light at the end of the tunnel moments. I also know that you’re more than likely feeling a little hopeless, but if you’re losing faith in your ability to keep on hoping… please keep this mind. You’ve woken up every single day for the better part of a year with at least a glimmer of hope that the end of this is near. Yeah, you may read a headline every morning that steals that hope away from you when you take your first sip of coffee and log into your computer for another day of working from home - but every morning, for at least a moment, the unknown of this situation brings a little bit of hope in the sense that maybe today is the day things start to get better for good.

It’s fucked up what we’re going through. It’s fucked up that little kids are wearing masks and don’t understand why they can’t hug their friends. It’s fucked up that some of us can’t see our parents for the fear that it could quite literally kill them, and it’s fucked up that there’s no end date set in stone. But, as lonely as this year has been… and as lonely as it may be for the next little while, does it bring you a little bit of hope knowing that every single person feels like this? That every single person is as defeated as you? That every single person’s heart broke this year?

This was meant to be uplifting. When I sat down and started writing this, and when the inspiration to write this dawned on me on my drive home today as I glanced out my window into the cars of probably thousands of other people on the high way on their way home, who are also wondering what the hell is going on. It’s like how when you’re young and you think adults know everything there is to know, and then you become an adult and realize you just have to fake your way through this very complicated life, and eventually you’ll make the right decision after sometimes a series of wrong ones. That’s kind of how this whole thing has gone down. A fake it until you make it situation. Good thing is, though… you always make it eventually. And we will.

Will things ever be normal again? I don’t know. Will masks be a distant memory? Will dumpsters all over the place one day be filled with plexiglass that was once put in place to separate us, but has now been taken down? Will we see the end of this like Christmas trees in ditches waiting to be picked up and thrown away for good, leaving you with the memories of what had just happened, good and bad? Who knows. The memory of the way life was before this, though, makes the wait worth it, no matter what the cost.

I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m sorry you’re hurting. I’m sorry if the reflecting you’re going to do as we come up on one year of what feels like absolute misery at points makes your heart hurt to no end.

Do you remember how scared you were last March? Do you remember how the drinks tasted as you poured them and watched the world shut down and lock up around you, while the government read you the riot act and reminded you that seeing the people you care about was no longer a safe place, but the most dangerous zone you could be in? Do you remember how that felt? I do. Think of how far you’ve come from that fear. Think of how much stronger you are today than you were the day you realized that things were going to be different from now on. You’re here, and that’s huge.

Do I think we’re in this for the long haul? Honestly, I don’t. I have full faith and hope and certainty among the uncertainty that life will be normal again. I think it’ll always be a little eerie to think about, and I think that the sight of a fully stocked toilet paper isle will always make you smile in a weird twisted way just knowing that the world isn’t ending today the way it did in March of 2020. I think we’ll always remember going for more walks, and how good a long hug felt with a person you weren’t allowed to hug for a really long time. I think FaceTime calls will always sting a little in a way they never did before. I think that the next time we get to dance together in a group will feel euphoric, I think the ability to kiss a stranger again will feel like a story book, and I think we’ll appreciate a lot fo things we never realized were a privilege, and a lot of things we never realized could be taken away from us at the drop of a hat.

I think when this ends, we’re all going to get on more planes. We’re going to book that trip. We’re all going to want to sit in rooms with our parents and really listen to the words that they say. We’re going to hug our friends for an extra second, we’re going to always want to go to that party, and we’re going to take advantage of the time we have, knowing how much of it can pass so quickly even when we don’t want it to. Even when it feels like shit is so bad that the time shouldn’t even count.

I think we’re all going to love each other a little harder. We’re going to appreciate the girls you meet in the bathroom a little more than we used to, or the random people who buy you a shot or invite you to an afterparty. We’re going to really pay attention to people’s faces when we’re back to being able to see them upon first meeting. I think a lot of things will be better than they ever were, because of how bad things got.

I love you, and my heart is broken too. This will end. This year was fucked, but you’re here. That’s what counts.

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