Tales from 2020 being sought

Staff Writer | January 12, 2021 1:00 AM

For many of us, 2020 was pretty awful — which for me is saying something, considering I started to lose track of all the catastrophes happening around 2018.

For me, the past year was filled with a lot of stress, information fatigue, doom-scrolling on Twitter and some (luckily rare) bouts of loneliness.

When COVID-19 started making headlines early last year, I was finishing my last semester at Washington State University. I remember that one of my journalism professors connected me with a researcher who studies infectious diseases, and who, at the time, told me in an interview it seemed the flu would be a greater risk than the novel coronavirus — with the caveat that researchers didn’t know much yet. I wrote the story and thought little more of it for a few weeks.

As often happens with early scientific hypotheses, that prediction changed with more information. Within a month or two of that interview, it became clear the virus would be a pretty big deal after all.

Around spring break, my last semester of college went from in-person to online, and my graduation ceremony, which I had planned to spend celebrating with my peers, was a Zoom stream in my parents’ living room.

I’m far from alone in this — in fact, I had it pretty easy compared to most. Still, the overwhelming amount of information, uncertainty and change left so many narrative threads tangled in my head that it was hard to keep track of them all.

Here’s what I can say: I’ve come to cherish trips to the grocery store. I live for the passing conversations with baristas. I’m still trying to not doom-scroll. I’d probably do petty crimes if that would make it safe to see certain friends again.

But while it’s true 2020 made me and everyone else miss out on a lot, looking back on it also made me realize how transformative many part of the past year were for me.

Over the summer, as I slowly started searching for jobs in a notably pandemic-battered market, I took a job at the local ramen shop where several close friends work.

Two of us who share a birthday had a (very small) party, and for almost two weeks straight we hunted down new places to watch comet Neowise.

Being so close to a few people in a time when I was cut off from most others helped keep me sane. Moreover, conversations with those friends facilitated personal growth I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Being cut off from a lot of my usual activities also pushed me to hone some old hobbies that had fallen to the wayside. I picked up roller skating again, which the neighborhood kids watched me practicing daily. I also recently bought a set of oil paints, which I used to create a portrait of my partner that was, if unflattering, made with love. Mostly, I had the chance to re-evaluate what was most important to me.

As the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in the U.S. nears, a couple of us at the Daily Bee have been talking about the ways the pandemic has impacted our lives.

For most of us, it’ll be a long time until things go back to any semblance of “normal,” and many of us have experienced some kind of loss. In some cases, it’s also created a chance to reflect, re-prioritize and grow. And whether it’s a loss, or maybe something unexpectedly good, those are stories worth telling.

So as year one of the novel coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, the Bee’s staff wants to tell the community’s stories, and hear from you. Tell us how your life has changed. What happened that’s worth remembering, and how has the past year changed where you thought you would be?

Respondants can email their stories to rsun@bonnercountydailybee.com, clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com, or call the Bee at (208) 263-9534.

We look forward to hearing your stories.