As becomes clear to me daily, I’m living in the strangest period of my life. For six months, I’ve gone nowhere and seen no one. Day after day, for weeks and weeks, I spend my time alone. I hear no human voice, I see no human face.
A series of events have combined to create this time. The first and most important was the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. government under Trump ignored it, then downplayed it, did nothing to thwart its damage, and actually encouraged dangerous behavior such as not wearing masks and attending crowded gatherings. As I write, the number of deaths in the U.S. is approaching 220,000. That’s almost four times the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war. After the better part of a year facing the rapidly spreading and fatal disease, the Trump administration has still done nothing to combat covid-19. I find myself asking, what country do I live in? Is this the U.S.?
The second event was the inevitable collapse of the U.S. economy as people were forced avoid contact with others. The federal government under Trump encouraged people to reopen their businesses, causing the numbers of sick and dying to spike.
The third event was the national outcry over racism and police killings of black people. I learned for the first time how widespread prejudice is in the U.S. The Black Lives Matter movement opened my eyes.
The fourth event was personal, not national. My partner of many years died at the end of March. Nothing will ever replace her. My grieving has effectively brought my work to a halt. I haven’t been able to write since her death.
The year 2020 will go down in history as the time when the U.S failed to cope with disaster. It has been the worst year in my memory.