Monday, December 28, 2020

Looking forward

(photo credit:

I have a tendency to look backwards in time. To be fair, this is partly because the past has already been written. I can go back and look at old journal entries and photos and news stories and remember what happened. The future contains all these question marks. And if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that there are more question marks than I ever thought. 

I do think there’s value in looking backwards now and then. You can remind yourself of things you learned, or see patterns you didn’t notice at the time. And I’m a sucker for nostalgia in general. 

But in this strange time of suspended animation, I find that looking into the past is a little bit painful sometimes. Much of my nostalgia is tinged with faint heartbreak nowadays. I don’t think it will always be that way, but when I find myself looking backwards, it’s with an ache of longing for things that are impossible right now. 

So I’ve decided to look forward to those “impossible” things instead. 

I may not be able to do many of these things for months, or even a year. But here’s what I’m looking forward to in the future. 

I’m looking forward to sitting in an IHOP with my laptop open, writing a blog or a poem or a script. I’ll order a second hot chocolate, and now and then I’ll notice the song that’s playing and smile. I’ll try to avoid getting syrup on my keyboard and will somehow fail, and it will be completely worth it. 

I’m looking forward to having friends over, and laying my head on someone’s shoulder and laying my legs over someone else’s lap. We’ll see each other’s entire faces, and we’ll bump into each other as we go to get another drink or snack from the kitchen. We’ll squeeze a hand or shoulder affectionately as we pass by one another, or mid-conversation. 

I’m looking forward to sitting in an airport, after hurriedly gathering my coat and shoes and laptop from the TSA bins that get re-stacked in that tense chaos. I’ll get a chocolate croissant and some fruit from Starbucks and then go sit by my gate with a book. On the plane, I’ll drink a ginger ale and do part of a crossword puzzle and then fall asleep, and be a little groggy and hungry when I land wherever I’m going. 

I’m looking forward to going to a movie theatre and paying way too much money for a giant bucket of popcorn and a gallon of soda. I’ll consume at least half of it during the 28 minutes of trailers before the movie starts. After the credits, I’ll walk into the parking lot and look up at the sky and the world will seem a little bright after the darkness of the theatre. 

I’m looking forward to standing in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, avoiding the diamonds in the floor and hoping one of us gets to sit in the driver’s seat. I’m looking forward to the brackish smell of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and churros and lemonade, and my feet being absurdly sore from walking around the parks all day. 

I’m looking forward to sleeping on friends’ couches. To driving a few hours to someone’s house, then talking late into the night, and then being woken up by friends’ children in the morning, wanting to play. 

I’m looking forward to visiting someplace I’ve never been to before. I’ll take the afternoon or evening and wander on my own, with no plan—just exploring whatever I come across. Maybe I’ll walk along a beach in the moonlight, or stumble upon a gallery or historical site, or people-watch at a park. 

I’m looking forward to going to concerts. To being packed into a huge stadium with a stressful amount of people and blissfully yelling lyrics along with whoever’s onstage, or packed into some small venue somewhere where the music is loud enough to make the cartilage in your nose vibrate. 

I’m looking forward to visiting family. To holding the people dear to me, and eating food together, and talking for an hour or two afterwards. I’ll try to be extra helpful with the chores, to make up for all my teenage years spent at rehearsal instead of sweeping the kitchen.   

I don’t think life will ever completely go back to “the way it was.” I kind of hope it doesn’t. I don’t see how it could. But I think all of these experiences that I’ve been thinking about—travel, time with loved ones, communal art—will all be a little sweeter after this time. 

I look forward to finding out.