I like sharing funny stories and sweet memories. That was true when I first started blogging in 2002, and it’s still true in the seemingly godforsaken year of 2020. I also like finding ways to learn from and grow from the uncomfortable stuff that happens between the funny stories and the sweet memories—and I’m saying this to myself because I need to hear it. I have wanted to write blog posts all year, but everything just felt too sad or too scary or too overwhelming.
But even as this country stands on the brink of arguably the most important presidential election in history—and the world is ravaged by a pandemic (and systemic racism and climate change and murder hornets)—we all still have our own lives going on and our own tales to tell. Somewhere out there, a copier repair man named Dave moved to a new state to get a fresh start. Is he happy with that decision now? Is he staying safe? Whatever became of the guy who abbreviated The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to “lodder-roddick”? Has he been imprisoned yet? Is the man with carbonated hair the kind of guy to wear a face mask in a pandemic? Or is he going to threaten the virus to a fist fight?
sonder (noun): the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
Of course, I have my own stories to tell from 2020. I reconnected with some of my favorite people by visiting each other’s video game islands. I got weirdly obsessed with pink (yes, again) and bought a pink rug, pink keyboard, and a now-legendary pink sweatshirt. I started going to Panera every Monday and documenting it on Instagram, something that other people seem to be enjoying almost as much as I am.
And I have plenty of uncomfortable stuff to learn from, too: I live in a state (and a country) that hasn’t taken this pandemic seriously, and the stress pushed me into a mental breakdown. I’ve cut off more relationships than I’ve rekindled. My grandpa died.
But I also miss the extras sipping coffee (and repairing copiers) in the background. For a while there, I was ordering from Domino’s so often that one of the delivery drivers told me I should join his wife in a “lava cakes anonymous” group. The laundromat has a new employee who yelled at some teenage boys walking across her freshly mopped floor exactly as though they were Lucifer, the mischievous cat from Cinderella. My least favorite neighbor, Goose Girl, finally moved out and took her awful boyfriend, Boink Boi, with her.
This is a long-winded way of saying that I have a lot more to say, and that tiny realization fills me with much-needed hope and anticipation. In the meantime, I'm sending love to you and yours. Stay safe, friends.