Saturday, January 2, 2021

Texas notes: Ode to 2020

     Austin bureau chief Caren Jeskey glances back at 2020, then looks down the road of 2021.

I wake up, not certain I’m in the right world.
  Every day is the same song, the same verse.
I’m quiet, but screaming inside;
  I’m on the edge of feeling it’s going to be OK.
Inside, I raise Cain for hours.
  Yet I feed others with a long handled spoon—
It seems better to keep things to myself these days.
  I don’t have the strength to get into a Donnybrook with anyone.
It is comforting to know we are all in this together.
  Still, I don’t know from Adam’s off ox what to do—
Perhaps a Quarantini?
     Each of these lines was uttered by clients in our sessions during COVID season. The poetry of their words astounds me. The silliness of the last word illustrates their overall resilience. Each person I know, personally and professionally, has dug inside and found ways to cope with the hard, cold truth of this period.
     I did not anticipate feeling such a deep inner peace today. I’ve been thinking that 2021 will not be much different than 2020 was; we still have obstacles galore on the horizon. I’m not sure if it’s the power of suggestion—that each year for my whole life I’ve found New Year’s eve to be a fresh start—or something more tangible, such as welcoming President Biden to office. I will not miss saying Resident Rump or feeling sickened by his dangerous, egomaniacal, greedy ways.
     Today I’ll sit in a yard, ten feet away from my friend Richard, the one COVID buddy whose house I used to go for visits during all of this. When the virus flared we cancelled our holiday meal plans. After that I felt it was best to stay away, since I do not want one single inkling of an opportunity to infect him. With nice weather and confidence that an outdoor hang can be safe, off I’ll go on my bike in a bit. The thought of sitting with Richard—a warm and elegant Renaissance man and sculptor—in the cool sunshine of Texas, sends feel good chemicals coursing throughout my body. Being grateful for such a simple thing makes me see that a healthy and happy inner landscape is all that really matters.
     The thought of hugging my family again—hopefully in 2021—embodies almost more more joy and comfort than I can handle. I feel that we are all coming back from limbo, and did not know if we’d make it. I realize it’s not guaranteed, but I will hold onto hope for now.
     The grief that comes in waves is sure to continue. I am sure part of me is in denial about realities I cannot face. The luxury to focus on self care, my career and hobbies seems like an absurd boon. What did I do to deserve this standing in the world?
     Since March I’ve been overcome at times. I once broke into sobs while biking, so had to pull off of the path. I stood barefoot in the grass of a field. I wanted to lie on the ground and let it out like a toddler would, but I was too afraid of scaring others. As I cried like I have not done in ages a friend called. I did not want to pick up, but I did. Julz talked me out of my despair for all of the suffering I felt—the lives lost in antiseptic hospitals, or worse yet, alone at home. I generally do not like to be talked out of my deepest feelings; I see great value in feeling them. But I let Julz walk me over to the swings and I let her cheer me up. I hopped on my bike and rode home with her still on the phone with me, and I actually felt good.
     This type of hand-holding from friends and family has given me the strength to put one foot in front of the other time after time during COVID season. Cheers to allowing others to help me, rather than doing the lone wolf thing, and cheers to the gift of others turning to me so we can all hold each other up.


  1. Northeast Ohio has a recreational bicycling club, with hundreds of members, that has been active for decades. They call themselves the Out-Spokin' Wheelmen.

    Happy New Year!

  2. You are quite the philosopher.

  3. Caren, we truly are in this together. It is too much to bare to try and go this overwhelming past year alone. I am glad I was able to help. Lord knows so many have helped me. One foot in front of the other is right.

  4. Beautiful. I read this multiple times all while nodding along in agreement. The last year has certainly facilitated a lot of deep introspection for me too, but I'm looking forward with a lot of hope. Cheers, -Patrick

  5. One of my concerns regarding the meditation I practice is am I suppressing emotions. So far I can’t say I’ve felt pressure building inside me. I wonder however if that has happened to you. Fortunately you found a healthy release, or maybe this time, it (i.e. Julz) found you.


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