There’s really no other way to say this so I’ll just say it: 2020 was one helluva year.
Obviously, the big thing was COVID, so I’ll just start there. I don’t know if I ever caught it, but I generally have a pretty good immune system, so if I did, I don’t know that I would’ve known. I’ve taken precautions by wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer when I go out. I generally don’t like people “invading my bubble” as it is, even when the world isn’t suffering from a pandemic, so I keep my distance from people. If you’ve ever seen me glance over my shoulder in the supermarket, annoyingly staring at someone, it’s probably because I think they’re standing too close to me. Don’t mess with my bubble.
I light-heartedly say all of that, but the truth of the matter is 2020 was pretty horrible, and I’m no exception to feeling that hopelessness throughout last year. People died. People I cared about.
An optometrist I worked with/for at a day job I used to have caught covid and died. Dr. Gayle. I believe he was in his sixties, but he was healthy. He’d recently moved and began working at a new optometry center in 2019, and now he’s gone.
As the pandemic took hold of the United States, and especially in California where I lived for the first half of the year (and long to move back to, but that’s a blog story for another day), there was a moment where we thought things we getting better. They weren’t, but I’m thankful for the little moment in time. Well, not really thankful because it’s bittersweet. An aunt I had, the youngest sister of my mother, died. It was of non-covid related problems, but she was only in her fifties. I was able to attend her funeral and held it together pretty well, while my aunts and uncles shared memories of her. Then, someone I don’t know, although he seemed nice enough, was hired–for lack of a better word– to eulogize her.
I had to walk out for a few minutes.
Not because of what he was saying, it was all nice things. But because of who was saying it. This man who I didn’t know, talking about my aunt like he knew her when he didn’t. If anyone close to me is reading this, don’t ever get some random stranger to eulogize me. If no one wants to talk, so be it. Throw a party and have The Office playing in the background. That and Seinfeld are my all-time favorite TV shows. But please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t get some stranger to talk about me to my friends and family about my best qualities like he knew me when he didn’t.
I guess I’m still a bit bitter about that. Ruthy. That was my aunt’s name. I remember her growing up. She loved Guns n’ Roses and Pearl Jam. When I was a baby, she quilted me a blanket. I still have it packed away. It’s old and tattered and hasn’t been washed in who knows how long. I’m afraid to wash it, fearing it might start coming undone. So I’ll just keep it stowed away.
There was once a man named Genaro. Calling him a father-figure to me feels like I’m overselling it, but calling him just a friend for more than half of my life feels too small of a description. He died last year. Also from non-covid related reasons, and I think that made it all the more shocking. There are some things I keep private and this is one of those things. But I had to mention him because he played a huge part in my life.
Did you know the name I use, RH Tucker, I decided to use as initials since I write teen romcoms? I mean what guy writes YA romance, right? Well, I do. I love teen romcoms. I decided to use my initials simply to not distract from the book and someone seeing my full name, Ron Tucker, on the cover and wondering if it’s any good or if they’d like it because a guy wrote it. Ron Tucker died last year.
I just took a deep breath and had to pause.
I’m a junior, but only because my grandfather’s middle name is different from mine. Otherwise, I’d be Ron Tucker the third. But my grandfather died last year of covid related causes. He lived his entire life in the PNW and I’m a So Cal boy, so I didn’t get to see him as often as I would’ve liked. But he was a good man. A good father and a good grandfather. He was a Korean War vet. He loved to go dancing with my grandma and they could shoot pool better than anyone. And card games. They loved card games. He and my grandmother taught me and my brother a lot of card games we’d play when we’d visit them. And he was competitive.
One of my favorite memories is he and my grandmother teaching my brother and me a game once when we went up north to visit them. I teamed with my grandma while my brother teamed with grandpa. He wiped the floor with us in that particular game. And when it was over, he stood triumphantly and said “That’s what you call kicking ass!”
I laughed and laughed.
Throughout all of this horribleness, I felt like in 2020 I took a major step back. I had to move in with family for a time and felt like a complete failure. I had to find a day job again in order to support myself. And then I moved away from the only home I’ve ever known.
Portland’s nice but it’s no California. There are no palm trees, or desert sand, or In-n-Out Burger. And on more than one occasion, when the dreary clouds have left and by all accounts, it’s a beautiful day, I look up at the sun and shake my head.
“You’re not my sun. This isn’t my sky,” I tell myself.
With all the terrible things 2020 brought, it’s also a year I decided to re-align what I want. I looked closely at my life and figured out what I didn’t want. I’m going back to school to get my Bachelors in English and Creative Writing and I’m refocusing my attention on my written works.
My new day job is just that; a job. It’s not my career. My career will involve words and worlds with me at the helm, creating both. I look back at the year that was and know it was a horrible time, not just for me, but for many others. But I also look back at it and realize I’m still here. I’m still standing and I’ve gotten through those ugly times. No doubt, bad days will come again. They always do. But remaining focused on a vision I’ve set will hopefully see me through.
And if not? Well, I’ll just hide all day in my home, watching The Office on repeat.