Diary | Reflections on 2020 [Mad Solitude]


Some years are an indecisive breeze on fingernails. Some are tar-like. You said “six feet” to me prior to March 2020, I thought, ah, that perfect stereotypical male height. And, face mask? You mean that which in Korean drama conceals identity and in Japanese drama expresses concern for others?

I came from 2019 with two key resolutions: good-good solitude and less doings. So when in March the museum I freelanced at closed, and the after school art programs I taught got suspended, my real pressing concern was the rent––a common ache of one who works “gigs.” I’d been mentally preparing to pack up––if my efforts at self-dependence failed––and move back, shamelessly, home to Mother, if she can afford me. If not, then a one way ticket to Ghana. It never crossed my mind that traveling could drown in unprecedented waters––looks like one can never fully prepare. 

Still, in April, I couldn’t help but sincerely write to a colleague, “I am scared and excited at once.” Their response was that my fears but not my excitement was shared. I blushed. But many months have passed and 2020 has given in to 2021 and still I wouldn't take those words back. 2020 was an exciting year in that I have never experienced and survived a year like it. I survived it––shockingly without too much worry. It was horrific and beautiful; scary and magical. That disturbing futuristic movie that one never really believed in, became reality. And somehow I was able to not lose my apartment, though all my gigs choked. Even my noodle packs, un-replenished, lasted. I merely decreased consumption.

How is it not magical when in scary days with queues going on for blocks, like a modern day great depression image for the future, and having not a penny to one’s name, you could say, I feasted on the proverbial fish and loaf of bread––delicious, every single bite––for a year? 

There were days so quiet I heard my heart beating like a caged animal. Some days were so lonely I wanted to escape my skin. But Chinese drama binges could distract me and not even excite self-censure because my Chinese only improved. Besides, as Blacks continued to be killed as if we are roaches and even those who believe themselves concerned, continue to insist that one’s day-to-day experiences of racism are merely a matter of strong opinion, it is a double blessing when one’s family has neither been done in by other human beings––who consider themselves more human––nor by a potent and indifferent virus. In this way, physical distancing, especially when one is lucky enough to have a space of one’s own, becomes an oasis.

My days passed at the window, looking out onto an eerily, almost, deserted highway and lonely sidewalks. In September, when the streets begun looking more like they used to, standing at the window had become a bigger habit than it used to be. Having just finished reading My Name is Asher Lev, Asher started to accompany me at the window. But all spring and most of summer I faced the window in a sort of fog––such beautiful cloud formations and sunsets there were. 

Overcoming complexities in Japanese engaged me . . . until the election. In November, reading the dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, my very first Octavia Butler, I could see her concerns like crystals in my reality. How curious it is that so many people voted against themselves for a man who only stood for himself. What does it say about a country where such a significant amount of people voted against their present and future, the future of their children and the future of their, so called, beloved country, all the while believing that they were merely working on making a country great, again?

As 2020 bid its farewell, I started a YouTube Channel and deleted my instagram account. After a whole year of saying, “I can’t make YouTube videos!” I jumped out of bed one morning, and as if it had been decided in my sleep, I declared “I will start a YouTube Channel!”

I hoped for good-good solitude and less doings in 2020 and I got much of that in different qualities and much quantity. I learned I can survive myself, and found contentment even in my loneliest hours. Alone as I were, I never felt truly alone. God was always right there with me––everything and every being was with me.

Happy 2021, 

Jane 

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