March 2020: Dallas, Chicago
One day home from Paris and I left for Dallas. Did I mention 2020 was going to be a crazy jam-packed year of travel for me? Little did I know that this would be the last business trip of the year for me, that my job in Atlanta a week later would be cancelled with one days notice, that all of my work booked and confirmed through September would cancel in one week in March.
March 10th I went to my last event in 2020, Shellac at Lincoln Hall. I got my hair dyed and told my stylist “no cut today, I can wait a few months.” She moved to Iowa a few months later and now I cut my own hair. I scrambled to do my job virtually. Illinois announced its first shelter in place order on the 21st. The grocery stores in Chicago near me were out of meat, pasta, rice, and flour.
April 2020: Chicago
I tended to the seeds I had fortuitously ordered back in January, made (awful) homemade tortillas when the city ran out, and drafted custom-fitting masks for my boyfriend and I. Work evaporated.
May 2020: Chicago
Suddenly we had to grocery shop and feed ourselves. When you travel most weeks with a business expense account you don’t own a rolling pin and don’t know how much chicken should cost per pound or which aisle to find rice. You don’t need a car to go grocery shopping because you don’t really buy groceries. Suddenly being home all the time meant that I actually finished a bottle of dish soap and shampoo. All of our utilities went up.
It rained all spring, limiting our walks and bike rides and keeping us inside. Then the protests and looting started. Helicopters and drones circled overhead at all hours because I live in the same neighborhood as Chicago’s mayor. Despite the Walgreens on the corner being broken into, and feeling anxiety and uncertainty we are lucky and privileged to be able to stay home.
June 2020: Chicago
Work picked up. The garden kept growing and I was home to take care of it for the first time in ten years of growing in this yard. Chicago continued to have curfews and the mayor took to raising bridges to downtown, suspending public transport, and closing offramps into the loop.
July 2020: Chicago
The beaches were closed all summer, but I was able to bike to Lake Michigan and watch the waves (and the guards protecting the close order). I got the hang of making bread and taught myself how to de-bug a zucchini plant and my cucumbers grew past my 8′ trellis. I saw my mom and sister for the first time since 2019. David stopped in Chicago on his way to Europe and we discovered the problem with meeting outside for a picnic when businesses are closed—no public bathrooms. I scribed a COVID-19 Summit.
August 2020: Chicago
I finally looked around and felt like an unintentional homesteader. Clothes on the line (nowhere to buy quarters for the laundry machines), cutting my own hair, pickling, making pizza dough. I’m pretty good at this lifestyle, but it’s not what I want to be good at.
September 2020: Chicago
I took to picnicking just to get outside. This might have been the last time I saw a friend in person in 2020.
October 2020: Chicago
Fall is the best time for biking in Chicago and all of the people who bought new bikes this year discovered that too. I tried to find places to go where there weren’t people, but they were everywhere.
November 2020: Chicago
By November I finally pulled up the garden and made a tent over cool weather veggies in the garden to try to make the fresh produce last as long as possible. Thanksgiving was canceled, which meant I was responsible for making turkey for the first time in my life. Picking up turkey dinner to reheat was the answer, but was one of the most stressful experiences I had experienced in months.
December 2020: Chicago
Buster got his second home haircut of the pandemic, I got the sewing machine I’d been researching to buy for years, and the lettuce tent got its first test of structural integrity.
It looks like 2021 will be more of the same in the US, but this time I’ve learned it’s not worth nursing seedlings for four months in a city apartment. I guess that’s my line in the sand.