It’s safe to say 2020 was a year like no other. For everyone. In many ways not much changed for Hubs and I, the stay-at-homers. Still every time I went to the store, grocery carts were being sanitized, blue tape “x-marks-the-spot” on how far apart you should stand from the next person in the checkout lane and masks were worn by the masses, reminding me just how different life had become in a few short months. Any place of business that wasn’t forced/ordered closed I avoided anyway. I’m deaf, putting me at a definite disadvantage, trying to understand anyone wearing a mask. We didn’t do our part to help the piss poor economy by ordering take out more frequently than normal, which is almost nil.
But much of life around us changed dramatically. We had not seen riots and looting like this summer for decades. It was troubling and unnerving, probably because of our age. The political atmosphere was highly charged throughout the country and everyone was worried about their future. The future of our loved ones. So while not much had changed in my own little cocoon, life was really different, and will never be the same. Ever. Which put me in a funk.
I was filled with this urgency (no, I didn’t have to pee) which is not something I experience often or fully understood. I guess it goes to the fight or flight in all of us when faced with dire circumstances. Do I stay and duke it out or simply leave to fight (and live) another day? I’m sarcastic as hell but really a chicken shit avoiding confrontation at all costs. I got no fight left in me. Ready to call it a day and move on. I needed to get away for awhile. Weird, coming from the gal who’s been solidly anchored to her home. Forever.
The idea of going away during a pandemic was daunting. Who does that? Yet, at the time it seemed perfectly logical. Hubs and I might as well be isolated far away (in much better weather, near water in its original liquid form) than what Michigan has to offer during the winter, so the search was on. Where to go, where to go? South of course, but not too far from home. A thousand miles ought to do it. Easy enough to pick out the worse 2 months of the year (we had a choice from 5 and that’s during a good Michigan winter).
I’m not a fast decision maker but after a couple weeks of perusing the internet, we found a location/place in our price range and made the reservation. Gulp. I thought my funk would disappear after our plans were solidified, but my uneasiness remained with me for the long haul. I guess I don’t give up anything with ease.
Another unusual decision I made was about Christmas. Just. Not. Feeling. It. No tree, no stockings, no cards. Minimal baking. Which did nothing to lighten my mood but at least there were no frantic days of taking the decorations down and packing them away before we left. Looking back, I now realize how much I missed seeing my ornaments. And admiring how amazing our 13 Christmas stockings look hanging up. I hope this inspires me to decorate this year.
Which brings me to Jeff and Pat. Didn’t know what a big part of this impromptu trip they would be. Jeff, I’ve known my whole life. A kid from my home town. He’s a punk (a year younger than me) and his brother Randy was one of my best friends during high school. Jeff generously offered us sanctuary on the way to our destination. If Pat (whom I had never met) had misgivings about having complete strangers in her house overnight, it did not show when she graciously gave me an elbow bump upon arrival.
What did I do to deserve this? Absolutely nothing. (I’m sure God had His hand in it). He knew I was having a tough time. A wave of peace enveloped me as soon as I walked into their beautiful home on New Year’s Eve. With a slight southern drawl Pat quipped, “I thought you might enjoy my Christmas decorations, so I left them up.” Every square inch of their house was decorated. Tastefully.
Her tree was stunning. Oodles of red and silver (like small branch inserts) with coordinated ornaments on a 9 footer. Mesmerizing. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. A fresh Christmas bouquet topped a runner in the kitchen. Festive garland with Longaberger baskets topped the cupboards (I don’t know what that space above the kitchen cupboards is specifically called). Fluffy red and white pillows piled high on the sofa. Gnomes nested on the floor beside me, watching my every move.
As we hauled in enough bags to give the impression we were staying until 2022, 20 whimsical snowmen greeted us in the guest room. They made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Although I hate snow, I have a fondness for all snowmen. No dallying, it was time to eat. I thought Pat was serving hors d’oeuvres when I sat down at the dining room table. Of course the table was festooned with Christmas dinnerware, placemats, runners and centerpiece. Duh. Jeff patiently explained the logic of 8 different plates topping the charger. Steaks, fried potatoes, green beans, rolls, and salad/slaw and wine. Yup, just a few snackies, as Jovi would say.
Pat barely got a word in edgewise during the first 3 hours. It was the Rock Valley kids reliving their wild youth. Ok, we were gossiping too, but we had time. We were determined to see 2020 come to a close and usher in 2021 with renewed hope (and champagne). I was the only one who partook of a second glass, the party poopers.
New Year’s Day dawned warm and sunny in Mississippi. After a small breakfast of eggs, home fries, bacon, French toast and coffee, ala Jeff, (yeah, he’s a good cook) it was time to walk around the farm to meet and greet the horses. (Jeff and Pat both come from horse families, which they have nurtured in their kids and grands). Too soon it was time for the last leg of our journey. While we were anxious to see our new temporary home away from home, I wasn’t ready to leave. I hadn’t felt at peace for months and sadly realized just how good it felt again. Doubtful if Pat or Jeff knew what an impact they had on my somewhat glum well being, but their friendship was a powerful way to end one (miserable) year and boost me into the next. Their timing in my life was impeccable. No, old acquaintances (and new) should never be forgotten. I just don’t know how to repay their kindness. Heartfelt thanks you two…