It’s safe to say that 2020 was, quite frankly, the year that wasn’t. Like many, I had countless plans that were scrapped: concerts, conventions, vacations. It was a rough year all around; and not just because of Covid-19 and the inability to see my friends and family since March. The year itself was, indeed, one I’d rather forget.
I got to enjoy one nice trip in February before everything hit. I spent a four day weekend on the lake at my favorite resort, for their annual ice festival. I dined at wonderful restaurants and cafes, made handmade candles, and hit the strip to browse the few shops that remained open for the season. At night, everyone gathered around a bonfire on the frozen over lake, watching a fireworks display and drinking hot cocoa. None of us thought this would be our last “hurrah” that year. And, looking back, had I known it was, I would have taken more time to appreciate and enjoy it.
When the virus hit New York, it was mere days before my first convention of the year. The con chairs canceled, sparking a following of many other shows throughout the state. Growing up in a comic artist family, I attended shows up and down the east coast regularly. But this year was the first that I didn’t set foot on a convention floor. In hindsight, it may have been for the best. But, I’ll get to that when it’s due. Aside from that, the day that the state shut down was also the weekend of a comedy show I had bought tickets to, and a concert I’d been greatly looking forward to. And thus, this was the start to many canceled events that spanned not only the length of 2020, but into the New Year, as well. On the final night that restaurants allowed their doors to be opened to be public, I had my annual corned beef and cabbage dinner at our famous local place. It’s been my last meal that I had sitting down to enjoy inside.
Right after, my company switched us from in office to work from home. Almost a year later, and still, I have yet to return to the building. For me, it was a smooth transition, and one that I honestly have come to love. I have more time to get things done on my breaks and lunches — and my cats are much happier. Granted, I miss the office life and my friends and co-workers there, but I’ve become accustomed to the work at home life.
Being truthful, the rest of the year seemed like a blur. I worked hard on writing and editing and submitting over the months, but to me, it’s still April. Time blends the months together in ways I hadn’t imagined possible. I started an online writing program in the early spring, and it’s truly what got me through the early stages of the year. When the virus was raging at its worst here in New York. My members — and now friends — kept me motivated to keep writing and submitting work through everything. Even when my creativity was at its lowest.
Yet, for me, the hardest part of the year was when June reared its head. Ugly. Cruel. I celebrated my 29th birthday without friends and the family I normally would. My annual dinner celebration was scraped — but I got my first bit of takeout since March that day. It was surreal — and only would become more so over the next few days.
On June 25th, my grandfather, legendary Marvel Comics artist Joe Sinnott, passed away at the age of 93. While the news wasn’t shocking given his health over the course of the week prior, it still hit hard. He was my biggest inspiration and supporter. He was one of my closest friends. And the worst of it all, was I never got to say goodbye. I never got to hug him since March. And that, for me, was the hardest of all.
I do take peace in knowing, however, his final day before his living community shut down to visitors, he asked me to stay for dinner. We sent the evening together, talking about recent news and what stories I was working on — all over a cup of coffee, ham and cheese sandwich, bean salad, and rainbow sherbet. He was, in my opinion, the most lively he had been in so long that day. Had I known it would be the last I’d ever get to hold him, I’d have hugged him a little tighter and a little longer before I left. But, given everything, if that’s the goodbye we shared, it was one that I cherish. It was a good one.
I still feel as though he’s not really gone. I think he’s still in his place watching television, waiting for the restrictions to end so we can come visit him. Partly, I think with all going on in the world, it made it easier. Being unable to visit him, it makes it feel like we’re not truly missing him. That when all comes to an end, we’ll swing by with his favorite danishes and cookies to greet him after a year of being unable to. That the only reason he’s not with us, is because of state regulations. There was no huge funeral and memorial mourning his loss, surrounded by hundreds of comic fans and colleagues. It was a private and small ceremony for his immediate family. And we got to grieve without the crowds. With conventions cancelled, there was no hole. No grieving every time we potentially would step onto the con floor, surrounded by friends and fans. Each event being another session of sorries and tears. They’re on pause. As is the world. As is, I’m certain, our grief.
The holidays, just as the rest of the year, came and went, with nothing special. There was no joy. No excitement. They were just another day — just with cheese and wine and ham and turkey. Our annual festivities were cut short by cancelations as numbers continued to rise across the country, and New York. The main highlight of my year — post Covid-19 — was getting to travel to Salem, MA with my girlfriend in October for my annual trip. It was a nice break away from the insanity and the mundane. The only little break that shook the timeframe of the year.
In the realm of publications, I had the most work accepted in 2020 than any other year. One of my pieces was turned into a full-cast audio production, and others graced the pages of beautiful magazines and journals. My debut novel, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, also released in December. A tribute to my grandfather, who was always the first to have to read and receive my writing. I’m certain he would have loved it.
Now that 2021 is here, I’m looking forward to finding more positivity in life. The lessons of the last year weigh heavy, and they are ones to not be forgotten. Take time to tell those you care about that you love them. Appreciate the little things. No matter how small. There’s beauty in so much around us. And it deserves to be recognized.
This year, my goals are few and far between. My main goals are to keep up with my health, achieve my 100th magazine publication, and stay positive. In April, I’ll be moving to Kansas City, MO to begin a few chapter of life, and while it’s scary, I’m ready. Just keep looking for the beauty — that’s what I’ve come to tell myself. It lives all around us. Even the smallest of things. And it’s exciting. It’s bright. It’s wonderful.
Here’s to a better 2021 — full of health, love, and beauty.