carpe bucko

happy enough for 2020

Last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series for the first time in thirty-two years. My Los Angeles Dodgers. I am a huge Dodgers fan. I have gone through a lot of pain with them over the past three-plus decades, and finally, in the year of the pandemic, we won.

Last night, my friend Gerritt won election to the Metro Council. This is a race he lost four years ago. Two years before that, he’d lost a race for the state legislature, not to mention the primary for that seat previously. After three unsuccessful elections with him, he finally won. 

You would think these two victories would have me giddy with joy – but you would be wrong. I don’t understand why, but although I am very satisfied with both wins (and I continue to watch replays of the final out of the World Series), it’s not the kind of fist-pumping, booyah-hollering type of celebration I would have expected of myself.

I didn’t expect to win either, so it’s not a matter of expectations being met. The Dodgers have always found a way to break my heart – or, as in 2017, to get cheated out of their win – and politics is one gut-punch after another. In a way, in both cases, I think the relief I feel is a normal response.

But there’s another part of this, and that’s how awful 2020 has been. One of my favorite singer-songwriters, John Prine, was killed by covid early on. Over 200,000 Americans have died of it since. I have lived my life by the protocols for most of the past seven or eight months. I have watched the stupidity and evil that has let the pandemic prosper when it could and should have been eradicated months ago.

This has not been an easy year to live through, and I’m the first to admit I’ve had it relatively easy. I don’t have a job, I live in one of the safest cities in the country, and I’m smart enough to take care of myself. But being surrounded by misery is not something I can ignore.

Living the cramped kind of life the protocols require takes a different toll. Yes, I get out and bicycle a lot, but that’s about it. I’ve been a season ticket holder for the Portland Thorns since they began in 2013, and this year we had no season. I missed that, a lot. The few movies I would like to go see aren’t even coming to Oregon.

Then there’s the political situation, which is so damn disheartening. The demolition of democracy. The mockery of our judicial system. The theft of votes. The fear and the hate. The future being swallowed up by contemporary greed and power-mongering.

And let’s be honest: celebrating on my own is not that much fun. I know we’ll have a small, socially distant celebration for Gerritt in a few days; that’ll be fun. But how much more fun would it have been to have held a party at his house with friends and supporters? How much more fun to celebrate the Dodgers at some bar with random Dodgers fans who, for a few hours, would have been my best friends in the world?

I know I am doing well for an American in 2020. As I write this piece and think about how I feel about these two victories, there is one thing that comes through clearly: satisfaction. The Dodgers win was in the most difficult of seasons, and they were the best team from day one until the final out. Gerritt was the underdog in his race, up against a lot of corporate money and unable to do normal campaigning. But he found a campaign manager who helped him craft a strategy that was the winning one. I am so proud of both of them.

So yes, a deep satisfaction that I know will last for a very long time. I hope the world is a happier place next October and I can have a proper jumping-up-and-down celebration of the Dodgers’ repeat victory; that world would be good for a lot of people. But for now, just to know I can take my victories as they come in this shitshow of a year and be quietly happy with them – that’s more than enough for me.

More than enough for 2020.

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