To start with the obvious: this year was better than last year, mostly because coming out of deadly, mismanaged pandemic is better that going into one.
Spoiler alert: we didn’t come out.
I don’t want this review of the past year to get bogged down with schadenfreude, such as Trump’s ongoing criminal proceedings but it helped. The arc of justice blah blah blah.
Nor do I wat to relive the horrific Iowa legislative session with its rightward push to move public dollars to private schools and reinstating the death penalty by folks who identify as pro-life.
There wasn’t nearly as much movement on any of these items as I expected, for good and for ill. The state government was pretty bad, though.
The first half of the year was very much 2020 2.0: excessive death caused by denial, entitlement and exceptionalism.
We saw more deaths from COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020, and we’ve let 1 in 100 of our seniors die from the disease.
But by summer that changed. Fewer dying people (good!), but with understandable pandemic fatigue, FOMO was on the rise.
If 2020 was the year of the introverts, 2021 was the year of fighting off the extroverts.
And so, after my much-anticipated second vaccine dose, I was lured out by friends to enjoy my first meal at a restaurant in more than a year.
This was kinda true. I ate in a restaurant in early July and felt pretty much OK! But: still lots of death.
Well, enjoyed is too strong of a word.
I actually did enjoy it. I miss restaurants, but I like not being sick a lot, too.
But everyone else everywhere wanted to do everything in person. Meetings that had rightfully become emails or phone calls were, again, meetings. Everyone wanted to host a cocktail hour, lunch-and-learn or some sort of celebration. If it wasn’t celebrating this year’s birthday (Wait, we’re still eating cake after someone has blown all over it? Have we learned nothing?), it was re-celebrating last year’s missed anniversaries.
Everyone did want to switch to in-person events, though some were still hybrid through the fall. Feels like we’re in a real fuck-it mode right now as the year ends.
It’s not to say that I wasn’t glad to finally be able to see people in person. Thanksgiving and Christmas, my two favorite secular holidays, were better spent in my parents’ living room than spread across Iowa and Illinois, though I did miss the joy of the low-key aspects of the previous year’s pandemic holidays.
We actually traveled — on an airplane! — for Thanksgiving. And Christmas gathering was proceeded by rapid antigen and PCR tests. It was still pretty low key.
I’ve never been a fan of the pervasive “good riddance to [current year]” — the annual refrain suggests we have no real baseline — but 2021 was only marginally better than the year before, so good riddance.
This is 100 percent accurate. Good riddance, 2021.