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  • Writer's picturekatherinelerner

Tschüss, 2020

This year was pretty fucking rough. The pandemic and the accompanying isolation, anxiety, and fear served as pressure points for any personal weak spots, and for me, this was a lot of days of feeling super depressed.

Being an expat has long been a struggle that hasn’t resolved, but being an expat cut off from any friends you might have made, and with your family (even if they wanted to) banned from visiting was really tough. At work, a high-risk environment, it’s been challenging to find meaning as we’ve been rehearsing in starts and stops, our performance dates being pushed off and off into an indefinite future.

But as much as I struggled this year with homesickness and despair, exhaustion, and exhausting UNCERTAINTY, I know that my suffering is not special or unique, that is a micro-micro-part of the collective global awfulness and suffering of 2020, and it could have been so, so much worse for me. I am lucky to live in a country where the arts have huge support from the government (as opposed to the USA where there is none), and where, in the months I was not working full-time I received nearly 90 percent pay because of a societal safety net. I can not overstate how grateful I am that our little family hasn’t had to add money worries to the list of worries this year, unlike so many of my friends in the USA. I am also grateful that we are still healthy, and that all my friends that got COVID have fully recovered (with a few exceptions; long-haulers are real). None of my family has been hospitalized, died, or even contracted the disease (yet). I acknowledge that this in part reflects the disparate and sad realities of white and blue collar America, where one group is so much more able to shield themselves from risk and disease than the other.

This year might have largely sucked but it also involved a lot of stopping and smelling the roses. We slowed down, looked around. It was also an invitation for self-reflection, a reassessing of values and priorities, and a two months of very intimate, surreal, challenging, and beautiful time with my family here (“Lockdown 1”) that I will never forget. It was also a year, where inspite of the obstacles I had some career triumphs (learned I could actually sing Kundry, a super-hard role, when we staged the whole thing before Lockdown 1; excited to sing it instead of March 2022 with a wave of confidence and experience behind me, got to sing an amazing one woman show this fall before the theaters were shut down in Lockdown 2 in November), got my first super short hair cut, moved to a castle, and lived more authentically. I won’t miss 2020 but it wasn’t all bad. Wishing everyone a brighter 2021 and counting the days until we can hug and gather again.

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