I think I have global support when I say that 2020 has been one of the most communally challenging years most of us have ever experienced.
The first half of 2020 was, hands-down, the most difficult period I’ve ever trudged through. In the first week of January, I started in a new position at work. The role of Travel Wrangler hadn’t existed before I claimed it on my freshly ordered business cards. I was excited for the opportunity to put the knowledge I’ve gained through my years of travel to good use for my colleagues and the company. It seemed as soon as I found my footing, got to a point where my Impostor Syndrome wasn’t crippling me any more, global travel came to a red light.
Then came February, when I suffered whiplash from being rear-ended, while stopped at a traffic light. In Chicago, in March, I got horribly sick on the last business-related trip before the aforementioned travel stoppage. I’m 99% sure it was COVID-19, but securing a test was impossible that early on. A friend on my softball team, who was full of love and light, with the most incredible smile, took his life in April. Then we were in May, and my wife and I were 2 months into a self-imposed lockdown (Florida wasn’t really enforcing anything), and I was struggling without the social connection I so desperately desired. By June, I came to the realization that my marriage was in crisis.
Although I enjoy the rush of a win, I’m not a big gambler. I’ve gone to casinos and literally not spent a dime because I knew my chances of winning weren’t good. My mom enjoys the casino, and I enjoy going with her, because we have so much fun together when the slot machine gives us an exciting bonus.
I was thinking of my mom when I added this to my Memory List. I imagined being with her, at a casino somewhere in Ontario, while on vacation in the Toronto area this summer, after we’d both been vaccinated against COVID-19. And with the news that she’ll be getting her 2nd shot in the next few days, my confidence is high that this will still happen in a couple months, but it won’t be the first time this year making this particular memory.
I play in three softball leagues. Yes, three. I thought it would be a good place to meet other lesbians. Because, come on. Lesbians like to play softball. And although I’ve made some wonderful friends (lesbians, included!), as my body ages, I’m finding it increasingly more rough to play 3 times each week.
My shoulder has been shooting pain any time I throw with full power, which has prevented me from playing my beloved position of shortstop. I’ve been relegated to positions where I don’t have to throw far (1st or 2nd base), throw a lot (right field), or throw overhand at all (pitcher). I’m a utility player without the utility to throw, so I’m not at my defensive best.
Good thing that this memory is all about my offense!
This is a memory that’s been on my list since last year. Singing karaoke brings me so much joy, and having COVID-19 steal this activity hurt more than most. Of course, I’ve tried to make the best of the whole pandemic situation by finding karaoke songs on YouTube and belting those out during work breaks.
But, something big was missing: friends.
Sure, Toby would sometimes come into the office to be my audience, but he never seemed to appreciate my singing as much as my friends. Even my neighbors didn’t seem to care. They’ve yet to ask for my autograph, at least.
I needed a good memory. My heart is still broken, and I needed something to help me feel happiness again. I was hopeful that planning a karaoke night would do just that.
Ok, first off, let me clarify something. This was not a memory I wanted. I didn’t intentionally add this to my Memory List. This memory sucks. But as of today, it’s a memory that I have. I consider it a shitty, bonus memory.
Last year, writing on this blog was cathartic for me. I used the list of desired memories as my North Star, to keep me trudging through my seemingly unbearable sadness. Lately, my posts have been more of a diary of fun things that I managed to accomplish. Heck! I even told my mom that they felt a bit shallow.
Well, the universe has thrown me back into the deep end of my feelings. I had forgotten how hard it is to tread water and stay afloat.
Oh, blueberries. The thought of them conjures up memories of picking them at my family’s cottage in Ontario. They grow wild there, close to the rocky shores of the lake and along the 1.6 km dirt road from the county highway. In my mind, they’ve always been a late summer fruit, because they’re ripe in August up there.
Now that I’m in Florida, though, I’ve had to force my brain to think of blueberry season as much, much earlier. By early April, these tiny, bluish-purple orbs of sweetness are starting to ripen, and I learned that they’re in season for 4-6 weeks. So, there’s still time for me to go back and pick some more!
I added this memory last year after getting a taste of the beautiful scenery of the Blue Ridge mountains when I played at a softball tournament in Tennessee. When I compiled my original Memory List, renting a cabin in this area easily found its way onto it.
With all the precautions last year, however, this memory didn’t come to fruition in 2020. I certainly didn’t want to let another year go by without having this experience, and luckily, I have friends willing and excited to make the trip with me.
In my life, I had only ever owned a single tie before this year. It was a special giveaway tie from the Toronto Blue Jays at a Father’s Day game years back. They were giving them out to all the male fans. So, um, yeah. I got one.
With the new suit I got tailored, my Blue Jays tie wouldnt be classy enough, so I ordered a couple online that would go with my shirts. I was hopeful that I’d be able to teach myself how to tie them when I saw the instructional diagram on the box. That is, until I tried to follow the steps.
I hadn’t necessarily been in a rush to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but I just wanted the peace of mind of having it done. Obviously, I wanted to make sure that those at highest risk got their shot before me.
In Florida, vaccination sites are abundant, thankfully. Many pharmacies are offering them, and at the end of the day, any unused doses are thrown out, and the thought of such life-saving serums being trashed absolutely sucks! Last week, I had been calling pharmacies in a 15-minute radius of me to see if they had any leftover doses, but all were accounted for.
Demand for those at risk and frontline workers have decreased recently, and to ensure the supply is not wasted, some counties are lowering the minimum age to 40. I hear rumblings that statewide, eligibility to those 40+ in Florida is on the near horizon, which is fantastic news. Yesterday, though, I caught wind of a mobile, pop-up clinic in Tampa that had 500 doses and was vaccinating anyone waiting in line. They didn’t want to waste any doses. Should I drive the 40 minutes to try?
When it was time to add items to my Memory List for this year, I distinctly remember adding this one. It was one that made me smile, because it was one that my inner child was happy about.
Some memories are on the list because the adult in me wants to have them accomplished. Some of them are specifically catered towards making Little Mindy laugh. And playing mini golf was always an enjoyable activity as a kid.
This memory is a carry over from last year’s list. Spring Training, which is something I look forward to every March, was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The fact that my beloved Toronto Blue Jays play in Dunedin, Florida, the city where I live, makes me unbelievably happy. Heck! Their player development complex is literally right behind where I live!
In the 6 years I’ve lived in Florida since returning from Thailand, I’ve attended a Blue Jays game during Spring Training each year they played. This year, watching them in their newly renovated stadium felt different. It was more significant.