Photography and Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2021
When I think about this year of 2020, there are so many thoughts that fill my head. Yet, an emerging pair of questions that come to the surface time and time again. The first question bleeds into second question I toss into the wind.
When will this year ever end?
And, no, that isn’t a trick question. But, I will get to that in a bit. First up, my second question comes into view.
Did that happen this year, too?
Let’s go back to January 2020 and our jaws will drop at all the other things that took the spotlight of attention for a brief moment in time.
Thursday, January 16th, 2020, a Presidential impeachment trial started in the United States Senate and February 5th, 2020 a Presidential impeachment trial ended in an acquittal.
Sunday, January 26th, 2020, NBA player, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna, along with seven other passengers perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The news of Kobe Bryant’s death shook the world of sports and popular culture; as parent and child were taken so unexpectedly.
When these two events happened within the first month of 2020, no one would have fathomed the Devil’s fractured finger of misfortune and perversity poked us all in the eye.
But, the weirdness and irony didn’t stop there as I drop another pair of dollops into the history books of events that took place earlier this year.
Monday, February 24th, 2020, movie producer and mogul extraordinaire Harvey Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault.
Saturday, July 4th, 2020, Kanye West announced his run for President of the United States of America.
Damn you, 2020, ya’ almost made me forget this bizarre stuff was real also!!
I gotta admit a few snickers came out of me when seeing how the mighty have fallen low into being shuffled off to Rikers Island and how a candidacy can be a frivolity. It’s funny. Not ha-ha funny, but so damned surreal this year has been.
From the ridiculous to the revered, let me take a brief spell to remember just a few public figures that we lost in 2020.
Four icons  of their perspective fields of excellence were John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kirk Douglas, and Rafer Johnson. Otherwise they are known by some of us as Mr. Good Trouble, The Notorious RBG, Spartacus, and Olympian.
Each were persons of action and conscience in American culture; varying from civil rights, the law, the arts, and sports.
As his flesh was bloodied by hate, John Lewis built bridges of brotherhood with a backbone of faith’s fortitude. Not a little lady of meek opinion, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wielded her dissent collar with the flair of a ferocious lioness of the law. For that glitz and glamour of old Hollywood, Kirk Douglas could have rested his laurels on his famous chin; but his chiseled jaw was nothing compared to the flexing of his iron will. Being an Olympian of the most versatile competition, Rafer Johnson went for the gold and won it with focus and flair.
Kirk Douglas’ courageous choice of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo during those dark days of America, when tagging a person as an enemy of the people seemed like a blood-sport by politicians might seem like it was done in days so ancient. Yet, it was not centuries ago when it occurred.
Even to this day, people who have never seen the 1960’s film, “Spartacus” know exactly what it means when the following three words are proclaimed by anyone: I am Spartacus!
As I note Kirk Douglas, another person who was a friend of his, Rafer Johnson also passed away in 2020. I’ve always been interested in history and as I found out more about the latter of these two phenomenal gentlemen, he also had a connection to that classic film. Having read for and won the role as a gladiator in “Spartacus”, Rafer Johnson had to turn it down for he would have been ineligible for the Olympics that year.
After becoming a victorious Olympic gold medal decathlete in 1960, Rafer Johnson, proved his sterling humanity once more by having a hand in history in the Ambassador Ballroom in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.
These four lives were well-lived and their legacies upon our history should be remembered beyond the haze of 2020.
Topsy-turvy is what 2020 has been, as one event that may seem so outrageous and heartbreaking or heart-stopping, just gets obscured by that which has now become a part of our lives – Covid-19.
The toll of the pandemic for the United States is one-quarter the entire amount of the worldwide cases of Covid-19.
The numbers don’t lie. The patients in hospital beds, both regular and ICU are not a figment of imagination. The second wave of woe has crept up upon us, even as the first wave seemed never truly to have subsided. From coast to coast, the toll ascends.
Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are hope. Yet, we are all on Covid-19’s timetable. Our place in the line of being vaccinated varies from the position we are situated. Some will get the vaccine in the first month of availability, while others of us shall be in a line long down the horizon’s trail of future months.
A vaccine is a good thing. But, it is not a cure. There is NO CURE for Covid-19. For the time being, there are only three methods of mitigation from being infected by this contagious virus – wash your hands, social distance and (like a broken clock which rings over and over and over again), WEAR A MASK!!
Oh, and if you don’t want to. Hey, do whatcha’ like. But, don’t come anywhere near me. Stay in your own lane with the other naysayers who snicker about things being fake and a sham. In New York, it’s been ten months since things were by anyone’s lax term of being ‘normal’. I actually shrug now when that certain word is used to describe the time period before January 2020.
To see the numbers in motion, there is a running data count of Covid-19 confirmed cases and deaths at the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center ; which tracks the levels, both for the United States and worldwide. It is updated daily.
In an interactive map, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has the tracking of cases, for both the United States  and worldwide.
And, so it goes onward in a somber sonata of repetition.
2020 is the longest year. Not by expanse of day, but by an unrelenting jack-hammering of the psyche. This year has upended the way we go about our lives.
This year seems like it will never ever end. But, as these days and hours of 2020 wind down, it is a thief, a marauder, a casting shroud of malevolence.
Taker of lives, taker of traditions, taker of things both tiny and huge; 2020 is like the Devil who claws back at humanity in wanting more and more and more.
We who have lived through 2020 have our own personal stories. So, let me take a brief moment and tell you about mine.
I thought in some small way I could be shielded from the calamitous touch of Coronavirus’ repercussions personally, but 2020 is the cruelest of culprits.
On the first Friday of December 2020, my cousin suffered a medical emergency and needed to be rushed to the hospital. When the ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital closest to where she lives near Mount Sinai Hospital, she was taken further downtown to Lenox Hill Hospital instead. The second surge of Covid-19 in my hometown is the cause behind a hospital bed shortage at Mount Sinai Hospital, which was the reason the EMTs had to take her to Lenox Hill Hospital. Hospital restrictions have been tightened around the city, with only a single visitor being able to visit a patient per day. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she was moved into hospice and passed away the Sunday before Christmas.
The odd thing about life is the timing of our last breath is never on a schedule of our choosing, but that of the heavens; as my cousin had just celebrated her 79th birthday a few days before she fell seriously ill and was taken to the hospital for a final time.
I was always close with my cousin, even before I could talk or crawl. You see, she was the person who had set up a nursery with crib and all the other niceties when my parents had first brought me home from the hospital when I was born.
My cousin and her four daughters were there by my side when my mom passed away a few years ago, and yet now in 2020 I was not able to be by their side when she passed away.
For me, not being able to have that final farewell to my cousin is what this whirlwind of Covid-19 took from me. To actually be there in the hospital or hospice to say goodbye to someone you love is something which seems so ordinary in a time of mourning. Yet, these are far from ordinary times. Another somber reality is not being allowed to have a funeral or wake, because of the need for social distancing. As of now, I haven’t even been able to hug or touch my second cousins or extended family. My only contact with them since we all were together in person was last Christmas at my cousin’s apartment.
Whew, thinking about this damnable virus and all which is diminished by it, just sinks the heart. Wow, I miss just my daily phone calls with my cousin. Damn, just to talk to her one last time would have been so sweet, but that bitter taste of absence is what remains.
A descent of sorts, from that which seems so normal in other years or even the first months of this year is that pit I sensed inside of myself. You know, I think we all would like to go back to what is considered ‘normal’. But, even when I write that singular term now, I’ve placed it into quotes. Whoa, this has shown how Covid has even bastardized a memory of what is considered something of everyday before 2020.
Can the year 2020 be described in a single word? To toss a label onto a period of the past twelve months would be foolish simplicity.
More apt would be a culling of what has vividly unraveled from the threads of American society.
I’ve been thinking. Okay, let me restate that; we’ve all been thinking. What is it? What could it be that taps upon the mind like a dulling drop of water on the brain that never seems to cease? Could it be uncertainty of the days past, moments present, and a future being not as far off into the horizon? I would say that is what I’m pondering.
Of all the things which happened in 2020; one overarching proposition has taken the forefront – freefall.
Yes, 2020 is the year of freefall!
American society has been on edge for longer than just the past couple of years; as problems were brushed under the carpets of those who averted their eyes to what was just beneath the surface of all which seemed most placid.
Incompetence or indifference:
Was it incompetence or indifference of how this year was handled?
If it’s incompetence by those who supposedly are in leadership, then maybe they aren’t up to the jobs they are elected or selected for. But, then again, they have people on staff to help them carry out their duties in a better way.
So, that leaves indifference by those fortunate few who can scamper off behind the gates of their fancily named estates. In the way certain people have acted over this year, I would chalk it up to indifference.
You see, incompetence can be buffered a bit by knowledgeable persons you can gather around you to give assistance on the things you may not know much about. Yep, you can fake a bit of competence in doing that with experts in varied professional fields.
Now, indifference; well, fuck, that’s what you learn from your mother and father in not acting in that callous way. And, if it is indifference in not taking into account another soul’s humanity; then that’s something nobody with all the diplomas in the world can’t transfer in some kind of mind-meld to you. Treating those who are the other as you would yourself, is something you can’t tap onto the shoulders of an aged-ass man or his ilk like golden glitter from a wand by a fairy Godmother.
With that indifference as the main course and incompetence as the side dish, the feast of freefall is what we have been served up in 2020.
It is that indifference, which is an accelerant of economic and societal woes for the American people. Casting about this being fakery or a hoax and that being an enemy of the people, is that caustic corrosion of delusion and derision from the lips of wannabe strongmen who are in actuality the weakest ones of all.
Businesses are on the brink, as the economy continues to shrink. As the calendar switches onto another month and year, temporary edicts by the government of an eviction moratorium on renters and additional unemployment benefits will come to an end. Across America families will face evictions, diminished funds and hunger.
On edge is where we are. From our nerves, to our health, and to our economy. And, least we ever forget or minimize another aspect of existence; our democracy is on edge.
Freefall is where our democracy is, as a petulant pisser decides in words, actions and inactions to turn everything in his wake to ash, just because he isn’t getting the ass-kissing he thinks the American people owe him in some kind of pseudo-authoritarian carnival of idiocy.
Date of January 20th, 2021 looks like a galaxy away from where I stand in these faltering shadows of December 2020. So, for me when I think of freefall that final push of the miserable year of 2020 is this American democracy being tossed into the abyss by a tantrum of a childish person who won’t swallow the reality that HE is a LOSER.
Oddly enough, from the first month to this last month of the year 2020, freefall married chaos. Decree of dissolution arrives soon, but we must stay vigilant on expunging the poisonous aftertaste of what the past four years of what some have so willingly consumed.
Well, enough about that person, for I shall end on a positive plateau. I am an optimist, for I have hope for there being a better tomorrow.
Dare to dream. Dream to dare. Hope for the day after the next into this coming New Year.
2021 is coming into something anew, as those who have lived through these past twelve months of 2020, hoping it is in our life’s rear view.
Now, there is only one thing all of us can do; nod in affirmation and humbly say “Thank God you’re here 2021, we’ve been waiting to greet you!”
2020: Freefall Footnotes
Footnote 1 –
Civil rights icon, John Lewis, February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020
Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020
Actor, Kirk Douglas, December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020
Athlete, Rafer Johnson, August 18, 1934 – December 2, 2020
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
Footnote 2 – https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
Footnote 3 – https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map
About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/flag/