Humans bond easily and closely during times of crisis, and 2020 certainly provided us with opportunities. We all needed a 2020 friend, and Blake was mine.
In mid-April 2020, Blake and I met through work. We were introduced through email first, and met via Meets two weeks later. He cracked a dry joke in the first 5 minutes, and I was immediately hooked. By the end of the month, we were texting every day.
But the crisis effect wore off--for all of us--when we realized that COVID wasn’t temporary. We all had to adjust; we had to return to our normal lives while making accommodations for the abnormal horror. Blake and I were no exception.
The friendship had slowed by February 2021, and we simultaneously changed careers in April, somewhat due to each other’s choices. And I knew then that this hot, crisis-fueled friendship wouldn’t last.
And I was right.
So here's my letter to my COVID friend and to all those like him.
“I wouldn’t have made it through this year without you.” How many times did we say that to one another? Dozens, maybe? And I know we meant it every time–at the time.
But the truth is, it’s a lie. We would have made it. We’re strong people who gather our strength from helping others, and there were plenty of people to help in 2020--in our personal lives and in the world. It would have been harder, maybe, but certainly not impossible.
But knowing that now doesn’t diminish the sincerity of it then. In those moments, I didn’t know how I would make it without you.
2020 was a blur of crisis-filled days, turbulent nights, and never-ending, dark thoughts about the future. I was constantly in my head about what this meant for humanity, for the next generation, and for the generation after that. I desperately wanted to have faith in humanity, but my confidence was constantly shaken.
With that motivation, I reached as far as I could to help people and to maybe become a better person. And you helped me reach further than I ever could have on my own. With outstretched fingers, we made a difference in our community, and I will always be honored that we did that together.
Your energy is electrifying, and your smile is contagious. I worked hard to hear your effusive laugh, and it was always worth it. I knew I wanted to be part of your world, and being in it, even for a little while, was exhilarating.
We are both flawed humans, and I don’t think there was ever a moment when I thought you were perfect. But I am drawn to the flawed individuals most; they have the interesting stories, scars with history, and insights into humanity. So, while I certainly don’t agree with everything you’ve said or done, I appreciate your humanity and the things you’ve been through. Truly, I appreciate you.
I never expected this friendship to have an expiration date. We talked about the future like we’d be in it together. We made plans and shared dreams, and there was a time when I thought we would turn those dreams into reality. There was no way, no time for me to predict that this friendship would weaken and wobble and fall. I never had rose-colored glasses; the beautiful roses and broken vase are equally real.
I still listen to the music we sang and watch the shows we watched. They don't bring resentment or pain; they remind me of the good times and the laughs we shared. There’s sadness, sure, but no animosity.
You should know that I changed a lot in 2021. For me, it was just an extension of 2020. I’m a better person than I was when we met, and even since the last time we talked. Honestly, some of those changes may have been because you weren’t here; relying on you less made me rely on myself more. And that’s okay, too; you helped me take the initial steps, ultimately making these changes easier.
Although I’m looking at our friendship in the rearview, that doesn't mean I’m looking at it differently. And I sincerely hope that you aren't either.
You will always be my 2020 COVID friend, and I will always be grateful that we were friends at all.
With the best of wishes, the warmest of regards, and the strongest love,
Your 2020 COVID Friend