America has always been a fast-paced society with people constantly working, going from one destination to the next, and rarely stopping to reflect on where they are going and what they are working for. This could be the year people take the time to become more in touch with themselves and the kind of person they want to become coming out of this unexpected crisis. This could be the year we all needed after all.
Throwback to New Years Eve of 2019, I remember spending the night with my two great friends in New York City. We had a classic girl's night— ordered in Chinese food, listened to music, drank champagne, danced and laughed. We watched the ball drop from my television screen and cheered as the ball descended down the flagpole, signaling the start of the new year.
I remember thinking to myself, what will the year of 2020 hold? Will I discover new interests and passions I never thought I even had? Will my oldest sister finally get engaged?
Fast forward to today's date, April 13th, 2020. I never could have expected 2020 to be the year the world went into complete and utter chaos.
Don't get me wrong— the year 2020 started out perfectly. I went back to school after a fun and relaxing Christmas break filled with lots of quality family time, warm weather in Puerto Rico and my sister's engagement.
Then, I returned back to my happy place — Madison, WI — after a long time of being away. I was back to my familiar routine of going to classes, spending countless hours in the library and going out with friends to relieve the week's stress of schoolwork and exams.
Now today, I sit in my dining room, with crumbled papers, stacked notebooks, calculators and eraser shavings all over the table, and my mom in the other room killing it as she does her daily 12 pm virtual barre class. I hope I look as good as her when I am 59!
I look through the window and see the air covered in dark, stormy clouds, trees swaying back and forth from the rough wind, rain puddling hard on the floor and a flash of lighting strike a nearby tree.
The weather today reflects what our world has been experiencing the past few months, credited to the silent but deadly virus, COVID-19.
I look into the kitchen and see my father finishing up his lunch in a hurry to get back to his home office, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on television holding his daily Coronavirus press conference. Governor Cuomo is giving forewarning to the audience how the news he is about to share is the worst news he has ever had to give in his entire life. The death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak in New York is beginning to plateau but at a disturbing rate. The U.S. has exceeded Italy as the nation with the highest number of Coronavirus deaths with nearly 22,000 as of today, April 13th. My Uncle David being one of those 22,000 people— just a minuscule statistic, but a great loss to all those who knew him and loved him.
I'm not going to lie, the past month I have spent days feeling sorry for myself that my entire second semester of my sophomore year has been taken away from me, my birthright trip—an experience I have been looking forward to for months—was canceled and I cannot see any of my friends.
Yet, I have spent MOST other days extremely thankful for having such an amazing quarantine crew (shoutout to mom, dad and Lucie— my dog), delicious food on the table thanks to my mother's cooking talent, and most importantly, good health. Because what's more important than that? Nothing.
Returning back to my initial question, should we erase 2020, I have thought long and hard about this question. I've thought to myself, is this a year I want to discuss when I am older and have children or should I just skip over it? Is this a year Americans will live on to tell, or should we just put it in a lockbox and throw away the key? Is this a year we want written in the history textbooks for future generations to study?
2020 has been a challenging year for the world. There continues to be a despicable amount of deaths and families are in mourning. More than 16 million Americans have lost their jobs. Non-essential businesses, restaurants and bars are closed, and face-to-face contact has evaporated into virtual communication.
Despite all of this, I have grown up living by the phrase, "Everything happens for a reason." This phrase, to me, applies to this year. Maybe a higher power has a different plan for all of us. Maybe a higher power felt this was the year to slow the world down. Teach people a lesson. A lesson that family and health is sacred. What matters most.
Instead of asking, “Should we erase 2020?” I will give you something more productive to think about— what is the first thing you want to do coming out of quarantine? Who is the first person you want to hug? Who is the first person you want to say face-to-face I love you to? How do you want to spend the rest of your life moving forward, once 2020 is in the past?