The usual New Year’s resolutions don’t seem all that applicable as 2020 mercifully fades into the past and 2021 offers up some fresh hope. Sure, we could all probably lose a little quarantine weight. Some of us might have dealt with the stress of the past year with a return to Camel Lights, or burning a blunt a little more than we used to. But whatever gets you through, right?
Now, with a little luck and a lot of vaccine production, we'll see the end of the pandemic at some point in 2021, and life will go back to normal. Sort of normal. How best to prepare for our brave new-old world? Below are ten resolutions unique to this new year.
Glad to see you, 2021; come in and stay a while. Your predecessor left quite the mess.
Wear a Mask
By this time, after all we’ve seen and everyone we’ve lost in 2020, wearing a mask should be a mark of social responsibility. Because it is. It’s not a hoax. It’s not panic. It’s not being a “sheeple,” and it’s sure as hell not infringing on your personal freedoms. If you think any of those things, you’ve been lied to. If you’ve claimed any of those things, you’re the liar. America lost nearly 350,000 of its own to COVID in 2020; that’s over 1 in every 1,000 citizens of the United States. If that’s not obscene enough to make you wear a mask when you’re in public, then you’re part of the problem. You’ve defected to the side of the enemy. It’s the same as if you had watched the Twin Towers fall on 9/11 and your reaction was, “Well, that Osama Bin Laden has a point.”
Now that it’s possible once again to pick up toilet paper and hand sanitizer at the grocery store, please stop buying things you don’t yet need. The supply chains held during the early days of the pandemic; they’re certainly stronger now for weathering that first wave. The thing that most threatens our ability to procure needed supplies— aside from a national leader too paralyzed by profiteering and denial that he fails to use the power of the Defense Production Act — is the “I’m going to get mine” panic that made bidets so popular in 2020.
Rethink Personal Transportation
With the move to working from home projected to be a permanent shift for many of us in the new economy, we've learned that we don’t really use our cars all that much. Sure, most homes will probably still need one, but two? I put 2,000 miles on my car in all of 2020. Our Jeep’s battery died, and it’s still sitting in the garage waiting for a jump because we just haven’t needed it. A lot of people have experienced the same thing, and they’re walking more just to get themselves out of the house, too. And not for nothing, but RTD is hurting, and if we don’t start using mass transit on a larger scale, it won’t ever reach the citywide availability we need it to have.
Focus on Your Home
Did anyone not come to a new appreciation of the comforts of home — and perhaps those house projects you’ve let slide too long? Deferred maintenance is always a homeowner nightmare, but never more so than in 2020, when all the diseased and angry chickens came home to roost. In the new year, don’t forget to take care of the place you call home. You don't have to renovate your master bath; just cleaning it more often is a good start.
Make Sure Others Have a Home
And speaking of homes — the flip side to acknowledging that your average two beds and a bath is more important than you’ve been pretending is that we have an obligation to recognize that safe spaces in which to live are universally important. Don’t like seeing small camps of tents on street corners downtown? Then support alternative housing measures. Don’t like the idea of mentally ill people freezing to death on city sidewalks? Then do some work for the sake of nationalized health care, especially for the indigent and needy. Charity starts at home; make sure it starts in yours.
Appreciate Public Spaces
One of the first things I was told about Denver when I moved here in the late ’90s — aside from the 350 days of sunshine lie everyone tells — was that it was a great city because of its plethora of parks. I was even told that Denver had the most parks per capita than any other city in America…which was another widely spread Mile High myth. Denver actually ranks 22nd out of the 100 largest U.S. cities, according to the Trust for Public Land. But that’s still pretty good; over 85 percent of Denverites live within a ten-minute walk of a public park. We should remember that when we can get out and play volleyball in City Park on Sundays again, toss a frisbee near the Wash Park bandshell, or just lie out on the grass in Cheesman and wonder how many unclaimed bodies are similarly reclining six feet under us. Ah, nature.
It’s become a standard sign-off: "Stay well" has essentially replaced "so long" as we end emails or phone calls or those rare, in-person mask-to-mask conversations. But it’s a lesson that’s been evident from the start of the pandemic: Those who survived the virus were stronger to begin with, their bodies more able to fight it off. That’s not to say that everyone who passed was unhealthy; when it comes to disease, things are rarely that predictable. But taking care of yourself became more significant; it could determine a lot more than how you look at the neighborhood pool this summer. Assuming it's open.
Shut Up and Vaccinate
If COVID doesn’t kill off the anti-vaxx movement, then nothing will. Except time and totally preventable disease, that is.
Dine Out; Local Only
We can’t put it more plainly than this: Forget national chain restaurants. There’s no burger at McDonald's or BK that's as good as the one you can get at Genna Rae’s or Bastien’s, and your burger dollars spent at the local spots go to people and places you value. So don’t get that cheesecake fix at an eponymous Factory; go to Vollmer’s or French for Sugar. Don’t order your omelet at Denny’s; you know Pete’s Kitchen makes the best breakfasts around. We lost too many of our favorite places during the pandemic, so commit to feeding yourself while at the same time supporting those spots you want to patronize for the long-term. Losing a fast-food chain might make us Facebook sad for about three minutes. But Denver will be feeling the loss of the 20th Street Cafe, the Market, Zaidy’s and El Chapultepec — to name only a precious few — for decades to come.
Value Your People Even When You’re Not Missing Them Anymore
It was tough to shelter in place. Then it sucked to travel for summer vacations. Kids missed school more than anyone might have guessed. We had to remotely deliver Halloween candy, try to find the tiniest turkeys we could, watch some parades that weren’t really parades both nationally and locally, miss our families for Christmas, ring in the New Year and kiss no one at midnight, except perhaps 2020 fucking good-bye. Remember all those things when it’s safe to enjoy them all again, especially those people that we’re usually able to take for granted. Parents, siblings, kids, extended family, friends, work friends, your kid’s teachers, anyone in food services from grocery stores to restaurants, the folks who deliver food, the folks who deliver you, all over town. In other words: While we’re mourning the many we lost in 2020, we should celebrate those still with us in 2021.
Have any resolutions for Denver in 2021? Let us know in a comment or at email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.