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So Long 2020, and Thanks for Nothing

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December 31, 2020, London, UK

Dear Diary,

It’s almost midnight here in London. Thank God this shitshow of a year is almost over, at least for me, anyway. Starsky still has to endure it for another eight hours. I’d trade places with him if I could. And I’d give up a goddamn kidney to be with him, in whatever country fate chose for us. Doesn’t matter where, as long as we were together. I’d volunteer for us to be floating adrift on that iceberg that broke away from Antarctica if it meant I could be close enough to touch him.

Ah, what to say about this past year? It didn’t start out too terribly for us. But the shit hit the fan pretty early on, when my sister’s ski trip to Italy in February turned out to be…turned out to be, what exactly? How do I even quantify what happened with mere words? My sister died of Covid on her fucking ski vacation. What else can I say? The rest of the year just kept getting worse.

I couldn’t even travel to Italy to say goodbye to her in person. Instead, I had to tell her via FaceTime on my iPhone. Her nurse -- who barely spoke a word of English -- was kind enough to hold an iPad up to her face so she could see me before she passed. That was it. No memorial service, no funeral, no nothing. I quickly flew to London to see to her affairs, but the virus got there just as I did, and I ended up being stranded here. A less than 90-day travel stay on my passport turned into a visit to the U.S. Embassy to get an emergency visa to extend my stay, at Starsky’s urging. Stay just a little while longer, babe, he said, until it’s safe for you to fly home.

If we knew it would only get worse on both sides of the pond I’d have returned home post-haste. But my window of opportunity passed, and here I am, still here in fucking London.

But I AM still here, and I guess I should be grateful for that. How many people AREN’T still here?

All the people who’ve died of Covid, for starters.

Huggy’s cousin’s son isn’t, either. When Huggy told us that Leotis’ unarmed son was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity, we wanted to do something for our friend. Go to Las Vegas to see him or else attend a protest in our respective cities. But all we could do was FaceTime him.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I’ve seen my partner, and I miss him terribly. Virtual interactions on FaceTime and Zoom simply can’t replace being with him in person, feeling the warmth of his body lying next to mine in bed, or holding him in my arms. Most nights, I cry myself to sleep with my phone next to me so I can look at him on my wallpaper.

And do you know what I miss most of all? Playing a game of pool together. It’s sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Who would have thought that the simple pastime of playing a game of billiards in a neighborhood bar with my best friend would turn into forbidden fruit? I suppose it’s because I haven’t set foot in a restaurant or bar since I left California, that I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like. Every meal I’ve eaten has been delivered, every holiday celebrated alone, and the only games I’ve played with Starsky have been virtual ones on the computer.

We’ve lived the last ten months of our marriage via laptop and iPhone, via phone call, email, and text message. As if we’re no longer human at all, but inorganic beings possessing artificial intelligence who can only communicate with each other via technology. Our existence these past months has been recorded by so many inanimate objects that I wonder if one day they’ll be discovered and read by curious aliens visiting our world far in the future. And what will those aliens think? Will they wonder how our society got as far as it did without the human contact we’d always needed to survive?

Fucking inanimate objects. I’d throw them across the room and smash them to bits if I thought it would do any good.

Even if I could see my lover tomorrow, we’ll never get back those ten months that we lost. And we’re not exactly spring chickens anymore. It calls to mind the news articles I’ve read from time to time, the ones about families reunited with their lost dog after so many years, and how melancholy I always get, thinking about the shortness of a dog’s lifetime compared to us humans. Those years he was missing might have comprised the majority of his life, and he and his family will never get them back.

Maybe I’m feeling sorry for myself because I’m here all alone, six thousand miles from my husband, and I ache to be able to hold his hand again, to kiss his lips, and to see his smile in person instead of on a 5-inch screen.

But I suppose I should be thankful that he and I are both alive and well. And next week, I’ll be getting the vaccine. Got my appointment and everything. And three weeks after that, I’ll be getting my second dose. And then, fourteen days after THAT, I’ll be flying home to my partner. That’s what it says on my plane ticket. Got it right here.

I suppose I can be thankful for that lung damage I got from the plague all those years ago which put me in a high-risk category so I could get the vaccine sooner. And Starsky, with the heart damage he sustained when he was shot -- he’ll be getting his vaccine soon, too.

We made it, partner. I love you, and I’m coming home.

*****

12/31/20, Bay City, California

Dear Diary,

It’s almost midnight in London where Hutch is. Don’t care that it’s only 4pm here, I’m gonna celebrate the moment my partner enters the year of our Lord 2021. In other words, good riddance 2020, and don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!

What can I say other than I miss Hutch more than life itself. We’ve never been apart this long, and it hurts like hell. But it was too risky for him to fly home, and the longer we waited, the riskier it got. I worry that we wasted almost the entire year. Maybe I shoulda let him come home back in March. But you know what they say – 2020 is hindsight. Or somethin’ like that. But considerin’ how crappy 2020 was, maybe they oughta coin a new phrase so we don’t ever have to utter that one again. From now on, we can refer to it as “The year that shall not be named.” Why the hell not? It worked for Voldemort.

If I’d known how long we’d be apart, I would have held him in my arms just a little bit longer. Kissed him just a little bit deeper. But again, hindsight.

Huggin’ his pillow against me every night just ain’t the same.

And I’ve never had this much anxiety in my life. Well, maybe that’s not true. That time Hutch went missin’ and then we heard there was a hit out on him, I definitely had anxiety then. But that was only for two days. And when he was dyin’ of the plague, my anxiety was through the roof, worryin’ that I wouldn’t find Callendar in time. But that was only for three days.

But this year, man, this year has been somethin’ else. It’s bad enough that my Ma died of Covid alone in a nursing home in New Jersey, but at least I can be thankful that she lived a long, full, happy life. She was 98, bless her soul. What I wouldn’t give for me and Hutch to live that long!

Goin’ to bed alone each night, knowin’ the love of my life was separated from me by both a continent AND an ocean, and not knowin’ if we’d ever be together again -- now THAT’S anxiety. And I don’t think I’ve had a longer period in my life where I’ve had such chronic insomnia. For every decent night’s sleep I get, I lay awake three or four nights in a row, starin’ up at the ceiling. If I so much as cough, I begin to panic, convinced I’ve got the virus. Then I get up, thinkin’ I’ll work on my model ships until I get sleepy, but I can’t concentrate, so I pace around the house. Get back into bed and lie there until sunrise, when I finally fall into a troubled sleep. Rinse, repeat.

I know some people have spent the past year readin’ books or learnin’ to play an instrument, and that’s great for them. I’m sure it’s the only thing that’s kept them sane. But not me. Nothin’ll keep me sane until I’m reunited with the man I love more than anything else on this earth.

I’ve gotten nothin’ accomplished except perfectin’ the art of insomnia. I think I won’t be able to sleep again until Hutch is lyin’ next to me and I can see those baby blues of his flashing next to my pillow.

But that day is comin.’ I just got off a Zoom with Hutch and he showed me his plane ticket. And it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Well, after my beautiful partner, that is. And in a few weeks, I’ll be seein’ him in person. His hair might not be blond anymore, and hasn’t been in years, but he’ll always be my Blondie, no matter what.

I love you, babe, and I’ll see you soon.