Analysis & Comment

Opinion | ‘Dream Traveling’: Some Good Things About 2020

More responses to our request for readers to find silver linings amid an awful year.

To the Editor:

The year 2020 gave the world perspective. We took so much for granted before the pandemic entered our lives: dining out whenever we wanted to; dropping in to see friends; hugging our relatives; traveling at will. It is part of the human condition to not appreciate something until it is taken away. When our lives do return to normal — sooner I hope rather than later — I will never again take for granted the joy of hugging and kissing my children, my sisters, my friends.

We have all been stung by this disease, and many have suffered much more than others. But when it is eventually eradicated from the planet I hope we all remember how truly awful 2020 was, and acknowledge the perspective it gave us to appreciate what 2021 can bring.

Len DiSesa
Doylestown, Pa.

To the Editor:

During this pandemic year vacations were abruptly canceled. My husband and I, both over 70 and avid travelers, feared we might never be able to travel again. Then in bed one night, after a frustrating day of lockdown, I hatched a scheme.

“Goodnight, sleep well,” my husband said with a yawn and turned off the light.

“Let’s take a trip,” I blurted.

“What?” he snorted. “You’re so sleepy you forgot Covid?”

“ C’mon, work with me,” I poked him gently, “even the C.D.C. can’t fault us for a sleep-cation. Without leaving this bed, with a little imagination, we can get patatas bravas in Barcelona and a glass of great wine.”

“Mmm,” he was starting to understand. “Go on …”

“A sunny plaza under a faded red umbrella.”

“And paella,” he suggested. Yes, he got it!

“With more wine,” I added.

“Great, honey. Meet you there.” He kissed me and rolled over.

I thought he was asleep but then heard, “and churros.”

It became our thing, this dream traveling. Each night, our heads next to one another on pillows in our bubble of homebound safety, we’d hold hands and travel the world together. It made the mornings, and our dispositions, much brighter.

Lucy Iscaro
White Plains, N.Y.

To the Editor:

What was good about 2020? Homebodies like me could stay home all day and not feel like a loser.

Kiho Cha
Brooklyn

To the Editor:

I have had to admit that I have benefited personally from this period of at-home amusement. I have had the opportunity to hear authors discuss their books during virtual conversations that I would not have gone to had they been in person, as the drive would have been an hour each way.

I have heard lots of music I would never have heard otherwise — our Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been performing many wonderful things and there’s also been lots of jazz coming from New Orleans. A local singer, Pete Kehoe, started his own Sunday morning virtual program, and I have been enthralled by all the online content provided by the Stratford Festival in Canada. My days are full of musical and literary bliss.

Jane Rodgers
Charlevoix, Mich.

To the Editor:

The good thing about 2020 is that it has irrevocably shown that we are all connected. What happens in an obscure wet market in Wuhan, China, can affect people in New York City, London, São Paulo, Cape Town, Perth. We can no longer pretend that events in any one country are no one else’s business. Like it or not, we are one world. It’s time we started acting that way.

Bruce Higgins
San Diego

To the Editor:

The best thing about 2020 has been the amount of time our family of five has spent together.

Sure, it has been stressful at times to juggle three children at home 100 percent of the time while trying to keep afloat a consulting business. And yet, as parents, we have found so much joy in having our three kids around us all day long.

Daily lunches, dinners and discussions around the kitchen table, weekend family hikes in the woods and a few family movie nights per week — in what universe could parents have expected this in suburban America in the 21st century?

Eventually, life will go back to being “busy” and school will be an actual place with friends instead of squares on a screen. But one 2020 lesson is that we’ll try to hold onto some of this newfound family time, holding our kids a little closer, a little longer. They grow up quickly, after all.

Martina Simpkins
Great Falls, Va.

To the Editor:

One good thing about 2020: the New York Times Spelling Bee.

In mid-March 2020, it became clear it would be a while before I would see my parents again. They live in India, and I’m in California.

I’ve talked to my parents twice a day, morning and evening, every day for the past 10 years or so. Yes, we’re close. But with the virus ravaging the world, these daily calls took on a new significance in 2020. Oddly enough, at this time when connection is everything, the constraints on our lives meant there was often little to talk about.

Somewhere along the line, my mother and I began playing Spelling Bee together. We get on the phone at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time and play till we get to Genius. That half an hour of playing Spelling Bee together every morning is pure joy — and for that we’re grateful.

Sharmila Shankarkumar
Redwood City, Calif.

To the Editor:

Not to minimize the unspeakable suffering, but 2020 has also given us a crash course in mindfulness — an increased capacity to live with and tolerate uncertainty, to live in the moment. To more fully appreciate and not take for granted the people and positives we have in our lives. These lessons, if carried forward, can inform a new and improved quality of life in the “new normal” to come.

Beth Brodsky
Bronx
The writer is a clinical psychologist.

To the Editor:

It wasn’t the marriage ceremony that we originally envisioned. It was pared down from 250 attendees to 15, and we were married on a lovely October day in our city’s Botanical Gardens. Our guests wore specially designed face masks embroidered with our names and the date of our marriage. The guests were seated at least six feet apart, and the congratulatory hugs will have to wait.

Yet for us, a 2020 marriage was all the more meaningful because we have learned the power of not taking for granted those whom we love. We have learned that all of those minute annoying behaviors that grate on us daily are really minute, when that one special person is all we have in their glorious three-dimensionality.

We livestreamed our ceremony and received many congratulatory comments. One comment was echoed by so many of our friends and family: “In this very dismal year, your marriage was a bright spot.” 2020 certainly is bittersweet — our marriage was the sweet.

Illene N. Cupit
Green Bay, Wis.

To the Editor:

One good thing about 2020 is being able to see inside my co-workers’ apartments on video calls.

Emily Patterson
Boston

To the Editor:

At the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic was first in the news, we had traveled from our home in Indiana to the San Francisco Bay Area for a one-month visit with our family. We have stayed put since February.

This has given us the chance to be part of a three-generation family, sharing birthdays, holidays, happy times and sad times with our grandchildren as they grow up. We’ve sat next to them during their distance learning; we’ve hiked with them through redwood forests; we’ve explored tidal pools; we’ve played tag; we’ve gone to the park for roller blading and bicycle riding; we’ve read books; we’ve danced. Thank you, 2020!

Robert Bigsby
Berkeley, Calif.

To the Editor:

I saved money on gas, dry cleaning and haircuts!

Patrick Salazar
Los Angeles

To the Editor:

One good thing about 2020? Well, I don’t recall any horrific mass shootings in the news this year. Of course we’ve hardly had any mass gatherings either. Thanks, Covid-19!

Ed Stewart
Oakland, Calif.

To the Editor:

A few months after the pandemic took hold, I received an email from my best childhood friend, whom I hadn’t seen nor heard from in 50 years. After a flurry of correspondence, we discovered a mutual love of golf, and arranged to meet and play a round. The trepidations of what will we say to one another, would we recognize each other, etc., melted away at first sight. Many rounds of golf followed, and I’ve no doubt we’ll be in each other’s lives going forward.

That reconnection, which likely would not have happened had it not been for Covid-19, was a great gift, and will be, for me, the happy residue of 2020.

Les Kozerowitz
Easton, Conn.

To the Editor:

Social distancing meant I could freely indulge in wearing scent without risk of offense. I cycled through a cache of mini perfumes, and being able to smell their delightful and varied scents reassured me that I was likely free of Covid.

Barbara Rottman
Fitchburg, Wis.

To the Editor:

He schlepped his suitcase to my house for eight years to spend weekends with me. He was 88 years old. I wanted my independence and privacy during the week so I watched the poor guy, neuropathy and all, make the effort to be with me. Then Covid-19 arrived and made me realize that he should move in. You never saw anyone smile so much.

We have been living together since March and we are loving every minute of our quarantine lifestyle. There was no way either of us could have made it alone. 2020 is a very happy year for us. Funny how my need for independence and privacy was overcome by a virus!

Iris Shur
Naples, Fla.

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