A Year of Essays: December 31, 2021
If things had gone as planned, Bruce and I and some friends would be taking a snowy walk right now to some restaurant in Stockholm for a candlelit New Year’s Eve dinner to ring in 2022. It was to be a reunion for me (I lived in Stockholm in the ’80s) and a new adventure for Bruce. Just a few weeks ago, we were anticipating exploring the Vasa Museum, Drottningholms 18th century theatre, Millesgården (the sculpture garden at the home of sculptor Carl Milles), and the ABBA Museum.
But here we are, in the New River Valley of Virginia, 4,356 miles from Stockholm. Just over a month ago, we were giddy with anticipation for the trip. Hotel was booked, as were our Arlanda Express tickets from the airport to the city centre, and a five-day Stockholm GoCard. Just over a month ago, the first report of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 came from South Africa. Its rapid spread around the world in 37 days has altered everyone’s holiday plans. Granted, we both sighed with relief when we decided to postpone the trip. My friend in Sweden texted: “Sucks. But, it was the right decision.” On the flip side, every friend in Sweden wrote back: “Sweden is better in the summer.”
Contracting Covid was not the sole reason for postponing. We wouldn’t be able to hug and kiss our friends as we’d want. We wouldn’t be able to visit in their homes as they’d want. The logistics of testing, going and returning, is a hassle, both procuring the test and waiting for official paperwork, not to mention costly. A friend in Prague and his husband had planned to visit his sister in Florida before going on to Curacao. They would have each been required to have five 24-hour PCR tests before each flight, costing, as he put it, “$2,150 in nose jobs.”
It’s all disappointing and frustrating. Another friend’s daughter lives in Perth, in Western Australia. The daughter recently had a second child, and grandma has yet to meet the new little one. Australia altered its strict entry process to allow immediate family to enter, with proof of negative test. But not all of Australia. The state of Western Australia still requires two weeks of quarantine. Grandma just wants to be a grandma.
Many are hopeful that this wave, which many experts say will dissipate by the start of February, will provide enough herd immunity so we can return somewhat back to normal. I’ll cross my fingers, but not hold my breath. (Though, maybe I should hold my breath to stop the virus?) Little did I think the funny parody of SNL’s Stefan from December 31, 2020, “New Year’s hottest club is ‘Staying the Fuck Home,” would be applicable on December 31 this year. But here we are.
I put on social media my hopes that we all have a better new year. What I really wanted to write was Gott jävla nyår. Which is Swedish for Happy Fucking New Year.