Goodbye, 2020. Hello again, everyone.
I didn’t want to let this freaky year go by without writing something here.
If you’re reading this…I guess we both made it. Well done, us.
If you lost someone this year, I’m sorry.
I lost an uncle, my mother’s eldest brother. He lived just a couple of meters away from us and our families were very close. I don’t think, this time last year, any of us expected he wouldn’t be with us today.
I also lost an aunt, my father’s cousin, who also lived just down the hill from us. She had raised three kids on her own and her grace and strength has always inspired me.
I remember, after our family’s visit to Rome two years ago, she called me up right after seeing our pictures and asked me how she could go there herself. It was going to be tricky for her because by then she was having trouble walking. She never got to do it.
My uncle, on the other hand, was a total prankster and those who didn’t know him very well always fell for his jokes because he said them with such a straight face. Whenever I mentioned I was going somewhere, he would always ask me to give his regards to Captain So-and-So, or Mayor So-and-So, or Mr. So-and-So who was the Manager of this or that Company in whatever place I was going. Of course, they were all nonexistent. Sometimes, when I see him, I would tell him Manager So-and-So sent him his regards, and that brief moment when he actually searched his memory for such an acquaintance was always such a triumph.
Once, when my mother groused (-ish) about my constant travelling, my uncle told her to just let me be, that I was making up for the entire childhood I spent as an inveterate homebody.
That all seems a lifetime ago now.
I had major plans for this year. I know most of you probably did too but, like, I really needed to get away this year. I needed to escape some things —
Well, I thought I did. And instead this turned out to be the year escape was literally impossible. The good thing was that I realized I didn’t need to escape that much after all. That I could bear things. The bad thing was that I lost quite a bit of money on visas and train tickets and stuff that couldn’t be refunded.
But as we say around here: ang importante, buhi. What’s important is we’re alive.
Having to stay home this year hasn’t been as difficult for me as it has been for others, mostly because I’ve always been a homebody anyway. And despite having stopped working for several months now, I’ve never had nothing to do.
Mostly, I’ve been homeschooling this one. (I’ve created a separate blog about our new journey, in case anyone’s interested in stuff like Montessori homeschooling and sort of just improvising one’s way through parenting.)
I’ve managed to somehow still not finish writing about our 2018 trip with family, or my 2019 trip with my son, or our short trip to Korea with extended family last December. (Actually, that last one I still haven’t started writing about!)
Future travel plans… I don’t know.
Definitely going to Austria before 2026 so we can use our train vouchers. Somewhere in the Austrian Alps would be great.
Definitely doing the Via Francigena, but whether I get to do it before or after I turn 50 is the big question. A bunch of us were going to do the Tuscany leg of it this year, but then COVID happened, and I’ve been saying to the others that this whole ordeal this year is actually part of our pilgrimage.
The whole of life is kind of like a pilgrimage, isn’t it, when you think of it.
I also want to go back to Bergamo. My son and I were there last year, and we had the kindest hosts, and so it was with utmost horror when I saw in the news how hard the city had been hit by the pandemic. I’ve started following Atalanta’s games — my email reaching out to our hosts during the worst of the pandemic actually ended with: “On a positive note, congratulations on Atalanta making it to the Champions League quarterfinals. We are rooting for them and for all of you.” You’ll take what joys you can get in a bleak year, right? It would be nice to catch a match there, one of these days. Maybe check out the Montessori training center. But mostly I just feel like it would be really nice to go back once this is all over and see a city I adored, that was hit so hard by COVID, still somehow surviving and thriving.
To go and say, hey, we made it.
I’d like to go some place different and stay for a whole month. A whole year, even, though getting a visa for that long would be near-impossible.
But really…at the end of next year, and the next decade, and the next years and decades to come, what I really just want is for my whole family to be happy and healthy.
If I only had one wish that could be granted, that would be it.
I think I speak for most people when I say this was the year we rediscovered our priorities. The things that are really important. The things that we actually need, as opposed to things that we just thought we needed.
It’s a point that has been made by a lot of people, a lot of times more beautifully than I ever could, so I’m not going to expound on it.
Allow me to just say that I hope you do have all that you need right now, or if you don’t, I hope the new year will bring them — and more — into your life.
I’ll try not to let more than a year go by next time before I write again here.
In the meantime, stay safe, have a great new year, and treasure the life you have, and the loved ones you still have with you.
Nothing is ever guaranteed.