By Anita Brienza
Dear Friends and Family –
What a year this has been! I started it off with great expectations, a good wardrobe, an active social life and big plans, and I finished it wrapped like a burrito in my favorite blanket, Netflix-glazed eyes burning a hole in my Samsung TV. But don’t worry about me! I’m still brushing my teeth – and occasionally, my hair – which is a sure way to tell someone’s still in the game!
Even though my dream trip to Italy was cancelled, don’t think I didn’t travel! This year has been a whirlwind of round-the-globe virtual forays. I mentally climbed the Great Wall of China while enjoying a steaming mug of jasmine tea, marveled at the intricate ceilings of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City while chomping on a piece of grandma pizza from Squisito, wore my vintage Abbey Road t-shirt through four rooms of the Queen’s residence in Buckingham Palace, and took a 360-degree tour of Jerusalem’s Old City in just a few minutes with my morning latte and bagel – now that would have taken me a whole day in person! I even condensed the long trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu into one hour, just long enough to soak my feet after using the Baby Foot product I found out about on Jill and Hans’ Facebook post!
This year I really got to know my cat, Lucy. You might be interested to learn that she cleans herself three times a day, around 7:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. or so. I think she’s mocking me on the days I forget to shower. Also, I never noticed before that she has different cries for so many things, like when she’s hungry or wants to go out on the deck. Well, I guess it’s only two cries. Maybe some of the cries are mine, like “I’m so lonely” or “I can’t stand one more day of this.” Sometimes Lucy and I have second breakfast together. Okay, I’ll be honest. Sometimes we have third breakfast, or something I call “first lunch.”
Shout-out to my local sister Rosie and her husband Frank. Before it got too cold, I’d meet them at our favorite Chinese restaurant that was only open for takeout. I’d get there early to put a nice tablecloth over one of the black wrought-iron tables that were chained to the side of the building and set the table with my own silverware and dishes, and we’d cap off our meal of cashew chicken and steamed dumplings with fortune cookies, hoping for a prediction that would change the trajectory of this year. None of us ever got one! Except once, mine said “The fortune you want is in another cookie.” Classic 2020 fortune, right?
I keep in touch with my sisters Judi and Susan, too: we do a Zoom call once or twice a month. Judi’s husband started off wearing funny wigs and changing backgrounds, and our calls had laughter and energy and hope, and nowadays he just sits and stares into the screen. But hey! You can only use so many wigs and backgrounds before they lose their magic, right? We still get some levity from my teenage niece and nephew who are forced to do a walk-through on the call, and they give us the finger as they shuffle through. Those crazy kids! They kill me!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the other people in my extended family who supported me this year. Like Robbie, who arrived within 27 minutes after I called AAA when my car wouldn’t start in my driveway. Who knew you had to drive a car more than twice a month? Anyway, Robbie got it charged up and gave me his card and we laughed about the battery dying again and how if I needed to get a new one, he would give me a 15% Covid discount. Good times.
At Ace Hardware, Ruth or Eddie or Kevin would bring whatever I ordered online out to my car, a procession of potting soil and big paper bags for leaves and light bulbs – and once even a hammer! I tried to make a joke about “bringing down the hammer” but Kevin was the runner that day and he didn’t seem to get the reference. Also his fly was open.
And Oralade, who works for my grocery delivery company and comes whenever I order, most likely at first because I tacked on a healthy tip, but I think ultimately she craved the quality of my intellect and humor, and we started text-bantering about toilet paper and alcohol shortages early on, and later about the relative quality of one product over another. We’re such good friends, when I accidentally wrote “Orangeade” for her name she didn’t get mad, and we have even exchanged pictures of each other. Well, I will send her one of me when I can, but in the meantime I have lots of pictures of her hands where she’s holding alternate products because Harris Teeter didn’t have what I wanted, and they seemed to say “Is this okay?” and I would text back “Perfect!” or “Yes!” or “Two of those, please!”
Let’s not forget my pals at Endoscopic Surgery! Yes, I’m talking about you, Dr. Kreisler and Catherine! When I was cleaned out like the big loser at a poker game, we had a few laughs in the procedure room before I was knocked unconscious and you did unspeakable things to my colon until I woke up to the good and bad news: we wouldn’t be seeing each other for another 10 years. I will miss you.
Gosh, where does the time go? I’d love to keep writing about my year, but I have lots of things to do, like breaking down all my Amazon boxes so they’ll be ready for recycling pickup tomorrow, trying out my new 24k Gold Collagen Under-Eye Anti-Aging Hyaluronic Acid Eye Patches and pushing the start button on the dishwasher again so I don’t have to empty it yet.
Peace and love and joy to you and yours, from me and… well, from me.
About the Author
Widely hailed for her sensitivity and humor on email, Facebook, personal texts and in her writing groups, Anita Brienza is a business writer caught in the tightening time frame of her life and is finally starting to submit her work (during a pandemic, of course). When she is not traveling, not meeting friends for coffee or dinner, not going to museums or the theater, or not baking bread, she is not working out. @anitabrie