My Personal Time Capsule 2020

2020 has been a doozy of a year.

Between a global pandemic and a fractious presidential election, many of us in the U.S. are ready to leave 2020 in the rearview. But there’s probably good reason not to forget the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the year. As George Santayana put it, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Few, if any of us, want the worst events of 2020 to reoccur in the spiral of history.

And so it’s important to remember. Ages and ages hence, when archaeologists, anthropologists, or historians ask what was so terrible or wonderful about 2020, I’d like to direct them to the items I’ve included in my personal time capsule. It’s not exhaustive; it includes a list twelve items long of things that were important to me in 2020. If the list leaves you feeling inspired, I encourage everyone to write their own.

  • First, names of some people I’ll miss: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Alex Trebek, Eddie Van Halen, John Lewis, John Prine, John McCain, and my dear friend Aimee Lafollette.
  • Mardi Gras beads—green, purple, and gold, and a tiny, plastic baby from a King Cake—to commemorate my first Mardi Gras experience, which took place Feb. 21-28, just before the pandemic was officially declared.
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  • Tubes of tiger DNA and the documentary, Tiger King, signed by Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin. If this list is read in the distant future, I fear tigers will have become extinct. It seems unlikely tigers will be able to survive as a species whether in captivity or in the wild.
  • A box of surgical masks. During a pandemic, don’t be a maskhole, as my friend Susannah would say.
  • My Black Lives Matter t-shirt. It’s possible to recognize and call out racism from microaggressions to police violence. It’s possible to share awareness.
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  • An American flag. A symbol that stands for democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality. I can’t help it; I’m an idealist.
  • A copy of The New Testament translated by David Bentley Hart. Being a bibliophile raised on the KJV Bible, I’m obsessed with Hart’s recent translation based on early Greek scraps and manuscripts.
  • Narcan. We can save people who are addicted to deadly drugs from death.
  • Receipts from all the cancelled flights, hotel reservations, and car rentals from the trips I didn’t take due to quarantines, lockdowns, and closings. Some sources report the environment benefitted from reduced human travel/traffic. Other sources say the environment is doomed.
  • A PS5 still in the box. The console was a really hot item for a few people I know, though one friend who is an expert said a PS5 is not that different from a PS4.
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  • A copy of the New York Times, Nov. 8, 2020,with the headline: BIDEN BEATS TRUMP.
  • Birth announcements for all the new babies in my life, including two new babies in Utah; Milo and baby Hussey in Fairmont, West Virginia; and Shaky Russell Theis of San Marcos, Texas.

I could probably list a hundred items, but twelve seems like a good place to stop. There are twelve days of Christmas, and twelve months of the year. Good-bye, 2020! You’re soon gone, but we will never forget you. So long! Au revoir! Sayonara!

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