Chile, when I say these last two years have been rough, they have been killer. I’m tired. I know y’all are too.
If we journey back to the start of 2020 when we were out for our last meal, dropping our kids at school for the last time, saying goodbye to our co-workers or consoling our friends, we’re hit with a strange and profound feeling of grief. We each went into our holes and the distance between us all in those first weeks of the pandemic felt enormous. I remember seeing my neighbors across the street, and it felt like suddenly a million miles were put between us, and our kids had to wave and chat through walkies while sitting in trees on opposite sides of the street.
Soon we were lulled into a kind of cozy comfort, and despite the fear of this plague entering our homes and potentially killing us or our family, many of us relaxed and began to think about our lives differently— what did it mean to work, to live, to be with people.
Then, summer came and the protests took over the nation and especially here at home with the Breonna Taylor protests. We marched, honored and kept vigil while scores of people worked behind the scenes to shift narratives about police violence and the policies that keep police feeling secure enough to abuse their power.
The mayor of the city did a lot of hiding, acquiescing and generally a poor job as a leader. When he was interrupted by protesters at a ribbon cutting in Portland, he tucked tail and scurried away. He did eventually make himself available to protesters, but insomuch as it was made a safe space for him.
Summer turned to fall and an election came and went where we had the chance to shift the country towards something better. Yet, COVID didn’t miraculously evaporate, nor did the struggles of the past year go out with an old administration. We rolled last year into this year and, to be honest, it’s only marginally better. We’ve had better access to vaccines and the chance to see our friends and family, but because we still suffer with those who refuse to vaccinate or take even the simplest precaution, we’re seeing more variants of this disease.
But wait, in our city, like many across the nation, violent crimes and gun violence rose. And too damned many young lives have been ended because of it.
So we’re still sitting in the midst of a lot of grief, pain and struggle and now with the recent out-of-season tornadoes, we’ve lost homes, members of our families and for some, any gains on the spirit we might have had. To add a cherry to the top of all the other shit, a very rude screenwriter named Nell Scovell decided that this tragedy would be a great time to remind Kentuckians that our senators are bottom feeders. We know, Nell, thanks for your callousness, but read the room. This isn’t the time.
We’re coming to the end of years that have figuratively and literally reshaped all of our lives and we’re not sure what we’ve got to face in 2022. COVID has changed again and we’re in the midst of a new wave of infections (yay), and we’re still trying to figure out our jobs, our society and each other. We’re different now.
We are fundamentally shifted. But we aren’t finished. We haven’t been defeated. What I want you to take from this is one thing: We have survived. Nicked, bruised, emotionally battered, and we’re literally dragging our asses across the finish line of 2021, but as Miss Celie says in one of the final scenes of the film, “The Color Purple,” “Everything you done to me, already done to you. I’m poor, Black. I may even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here! I’m here!”
These two years have done a lot to us and you may be reading this and thinking that you are not poor, Black or ugly, but guess what, you’ve also still survived.
Fuck it, y’all…
You’re here. So am I, and that is something to take comfort in. This holiday season and this New Year, pour one out for those that won’t cross the finish line of this year with us, but breathe in the strange Louisville air, look around and know that we’re all still here, together and next year, even with new and some of the same challenges, we have a chance to make this life a bit better for everyone. I expect you to take that challenge seriously. Make music, make love, make a lot of happy cacophonous noise if for no other reason than to let the universe know that we’re coming back stronger. See ya in 2022.
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