Some years, before they ever really begin, simply feel more weighty. They portend something momentous. They promise the life-altering.
This is what 2020 brings. This could be — it just feels like — a big one.
Every year, to be certain, has its milestones and its speed bumps. 2019 was like that. 2019 was all over the place. And that’s not even counting impeachment.
Even after a year like that, though, during which my irrepressible mother passed on (Father Time remains, as they say in the biz, undefeated), when I once again was forced under a surgeon’s probing scalpel, when … well, I’m not going to list here. It was an eventful year, 2019 was.
Even compared to that, 2020 stands to be monumental.
Close to home … the boy has four slim months, with a good-sized spring break thrown in, until his graduation from Georgia Tech. After a scratchy start to his college career, he has bounced back incredibly and is on a final-semester glide path to his degree in computer engineering. That, it seems, will be the easy part. The hard part comes after.
Luke is now starting to jump full-bore into his first full-time job search, applying to places almost literally from coast to coast. He’s not sure, exactly, what kind of job in what industry in which city he’s interested in. (If you’re in computers, you can work in literally any industry, anywhere.) And you know kids these days; he’s probably not going to stay in one job or one place for too long, anyway. Four or five months from now, he could be in some short-term lease in Seattle or San Francisco, or back in downtown Atlanta. Whatever happens, it’ll be a big change.
Mary Jo and I, too, are looking to relocate. Still looking. If we can figure out where. We hope to amp up that search, and get our house ready for the market, in the early part of 2020. Maybe even sell our home of the last 16 years. If, you know, we find that next stop.
(We are intent on moving even though, on the list of sucky must-dos in the course of a lifetime, moving and getting ready to move are neck-and-neck for the top spot. Luke and I spent some time over Christmas break sprucing up the house. Meaning, re-caulking the shower in the master bathroom. This is, I’m sure, why God invented handymen. Handypeople. Whatever.
(Our caulking went like this: Spray caulk remover, wait, bend over, scrape, scrape, scrape, pull, scrape, try to straighten your balky spine, scrape, pull, scrape, scrape, scrape, clean everything up, then apply new caulk — wet finger, push a bead, wipe finger on shorts — and try to make it look relatively professional. After all that scraping and bending and swiping, though, what you’re really hoping for is that nothing leaks. Doesn’t look perfect? Tough. Buyer beware.)
Both of those life events — Luke moving on, and us, hopefully, too — will have a major bearing on our work life. Though we can do what we do anywhere, pretty much, we’re in total agreement that we have reached a professional crossroads, as it were. We are at the juncture of our lives that everyone who has ever worked for someone else lands on eventually; that is, as much as you may enjoy what you do, at some point you need to spend your time on you, and those you love, and not for the someone who signs your paycheck. And you have to do that while you can.
So Mary Jo has plans (many of them involving puppies), and I continue to embrace that long-held notion of writing something more meaningful than a game story or a blog post or a 2,000-word piece on the most famous drug lord ever (interesting as that may have been).
On top of that, we need to go up to Cincinnati more to see her parents (they’re both over 80 now). We want to be able to take a guilt-free walk in the park on a Tuesday afternoon, or stay up to midnight (!) and not have to wake up early to punch a clock. If we hanker for a week off to visit Luke, wherever he is — even if that’s in downtown Atlanta — shouldn’t we be able to do that?
I’d like to go to Paris and London, too, and many other places. I want to spend more time in the sun. I think it’d be good to volunteer.
What’s it like to live without a work deadline constantly looming? I wonder.
The point: We have other things we want to do.
Farther from home … the Donovan kids from Delaware may yet pull off a reunion in 2020, the first in something like 20 years. Getting seven siblings together has never been easy. With Mom now gone, the urgency is greater. 2020 seems like the right time to do it.
And, not personal but at the same time very personal, a painfully consequential election will be held this year. That’s going to consume many of us, whether we like it or not.
This may be overstating it — pardon my soapbox — but the country as we know it has devolved under this Cryer in Chief, more than I thought possible. Checks and balances have been tossed aside like (exactly like!) a pesky subpoena. The president defies Congress and the courts. Unity has become a foul word in a president who knows foul words all too well. Civil discourse is now a foreign language. He scoffs at science. He places the almighty buck above all else. He portrays himself as a champion of the worker while spending weekends with the moneyed class at golf courses that bear his name. He plays to rowdy crowds who celebrate him and his outside-the-Beltway ways, though those ways brought impeachment and chaos at home and ridicule outside it.
Yeah, the economy is cooking. Unemployment is low. 401Ks are humming along. He takes credit, undeservingly, for all of it.
He basks in the cheers from his red-hatted sycophants, seeing them (unwisely) as the hoarse but true voice of America. It’s not so.
I don’t want to stumble backward into a rant here — heck, we have all year for that — but Election 2020 promises to be more intrusive, more ponderous, more repugnant than maybe any election ever, thanks to this one person.
That, like it or not, will be the inescapable story of 2020. At home. In Washington. Everywhere.
If only we could find some place — any place — to get away for a year or so.