I was going to start with January 2020 but this year has been shaped by the pandemic, I can vaguely remember life before March 13, 2020.
BEFORE MARCH 13, 2020
Life before the first case in Indiana is a blur. I only remember a few things. I started a new job in January. Mico turned one this year. We had a birthday party for him (it was before the stay at home orders and shutdown). He yawned when we cut the cake, and fell asleep at his own birthday party. I turned 30-years-old before the shutdown too so, we went out to dinner with friends and I've never worn that dress again this year :)
AFTER MARCH 13, 2020
I ran from March to August this year, switched to Pilates for a few months, and purchased RingFit in October. I work out for at least 30 minutes five days a week sometimes longer on the weekends. When the weather was warmer, I would walk outside with Mico for some meetings that did not require my laptop.
I've actually gained weight over the last few months but I feel a little stronger. I still have flare ups if I eat certain foods or sit for too long so, being active and trying to watch what I eat is probably the only way forward.
Living with chronic pain is strange. There's more empathy and education around visible ailments. Much like a virus, invisible pain is not seen as much of a threat societally.
When I ran in the Spring and Summer, Mico would cheer for other runners or the volleyball players near the park from his stroller. Just imagine a tiny voice yelling "Go, go, go". It's adorable.
There were days where I didn't work out at all but overall, I started enjoying exercise again. I stopped running in my late twenties mostly because I couldn't find the time for it with work. Now that I have a child, it's hard to carve out any time for myself. However, Mico really loves it when we're active so going outside for a jog or killing monsters in RingFit is something he enjoys too.
When Mico was little, he would lay or sit on my stomach while I did a bridge. Even though he's 3 feet tall and over 30 pounds now, he still climbs on my body when I lay on the floor. It's harder but I love that working out has become a part of his routine too. Practicing self-care is a value I hope to instill in him.
Eating good food has always been a form of hospitality to me. Trying a new restaurant and getting to know someone over a meal is how this little introvert likes to socialize. A few years ago, an Ethiopian restaurant downtown renovated their dining space, and I think I convinced 15 people from my workplace to try it out. I haven't changed much from college where my "role" in my friend group could be summarized as the person who was organizing lunches, dinners, drinks or any occasion to get together over food.
Early in the pandemic, we tried to support local restaurants as much as we could by eating out. Working from home with a toddler is difficult so I'll confess that I didn't have a lot of time to cook. I always made time to fix Mico his meals but I didn't give myself much attention.
Towards the end of the year, I decided to take breaks from ordering out for 2 week stretches after I watched a documentary on Netflix. I love cooking and find it therapeutic so learning different cuisines and diversifying Mico's palate from a young age is important to me.
I've found so much solace over a warm meal at many places in Indiana; I am sad that many local restaurants were forced to close during this time. I hope we see some rejuvenation in 2021. Please support local, get to know the staff, and tip well.
I bought tickets to Montreal for May 2020. The trip was cancelled. I also bought tickets to India for October 2020. This trip was cancelled too. I really wanted to take Mico home so he could hang out with his cousins and grandparents. I've never met my nephew in person, and I am worried that my child thinks relationships are virtual.
For those who know me well, I've been away from my family since I was 13. I went to boarding school and moved to the States for college. I'm used to being by myself and enjoy my own presence. I've conditioned myself to be familiar with the distance even though it means I miss birthdays, weddings, and funerals.
This year was difficult though because I don't know when I can go back to India for a visit. My parents are both diabetic so hopping on a flight with a bunch of strangers is not an option. Risking my health or my son's health isn't wise either. It's the fact that I don't know when I will be able to make plans that's disheartening.
Mico turns 2 this year so, I'll have to start paying for a ticket for him. All my planning to introduce him to two countries before he turned 2 failed. This pandemic has really taught me a lot about planning ahead, and rolling with the punches.
I've been all over the place emotionally this year. Mid summer, a few friends stopped talking to me. The reasons are private, and I actually understand and respect the need for distance. After BLM became more popular on social media, we got together virtually and they discussed reading a book together.
As the only person of color, I declined because I don't want or need another forum to read a book about race. I've never thought about race much before moving to Indiana, and what's healthy for me is to avoid "yo-yo activism". A term I use for the reactionary response to social events and the avoidance of the same issue daily. Retweeting or sharing things on social media is helpful, but it shouldn't take away from self-examination.
Beyond discussions of systemic racism, I'd love for people to answer two questions:
- Why do I have few non-White friends?
- What power or privilege am I willing to give up if it makes someone else feel more welcome and included?
I just think it's easier to have an ideological discussion about a system rather than examining our individual participation in the same system. The problem is always "out there" rather than within.
I understand this comes across harshly but I genuinely don't want more friends who ignore my cultural differences in the name of color blindness. Voting Democrat but cracking racist jokes isn't woke.
Oddly enough, the avoidance or saying "no" is something I learned from the same group of friends. I normally charge into situations especially sociopolitical issues but saying no to something I knew would add little value, and deplete me of already drained energy was a healthy boundary.
I do grief the loss of those relationships sometimes but I also believe that "not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path". Letting go over those relationships helped me focus on others.
Instead, I went to other events in the city where I was not the only person of color. I spent some of my time working on diversity and inclusion efforts within my company, and speaking at a few virtual events to encourage others to explore STEM degrees.
I learned that sometimes avoidance is really healthy. I don't think many people realize this but just because I'm a person of color, it doesn't mean I am available to discuss race when others see fit. I also have my standard responsibilities as a human, and engaging in any activity has an opportunity cost. Focusing on my work, my son, and other friends actually made me much happier.
All I will say is that I've been challenged a lot this year professionally in an environment that's supportive and incredibly understanding of my chaotic life as a working mum. I'm an anxious person but I'm learning to channel that anxiety into sustainable fuel; to find challenges and opportunities for growth for myself and my team.
I've learned a lot from my peers, and I'm really excited to learn more.
AFTER JAN 1, 2021:
I don't have any resolutions this year apart from drinking more water... at least 64 ounces every day.
2020 was a year full of plans that changed. I learned to live one day at a time, and appreciate small things through the eyes of a toddler. I'm grateful and hopeful that 2021 will be kind, promising, and enriching.