A Brand New 52

2020, so far, has played us. Not like fools, mind you. We weren’t taken advantage of by a year so deeply sinister that it planned months of masking, delirious days of distancing, and financial fiascos years ahead of time. No, this year, itself, was bluffed into believing it had a hand in our positivity as the ball dropped on January 1st, precisely at 12:00 a.m. in New York city. Ah, yes. “2020 vision” … as I’m sure not to be the only one using this obvious phrase to describe what we should have seen coming …

… or, should we? In hindsight, there were no warnings. No tells, as they say in the poker world. No way of knowing, in 2019, the following year had wild cards to play from a deck of 54 – when we thought the year ahead had only 52. Fifty-two weeks of more freedom, joy, family, and good health. Two extra inserted jokers disguised as a virus and an unprepared nation … Yep, a stacked, heaping pile of numbers that kept rising, no ace in the hole, and no unifying face of the nation to win the day as 2020 began to deal cards … over and over … until we no longer had hands big enough to hold them.

No. We didn’t see this. No way did any of us expect 2020 to unfold into the disaster it has become. Maybe, just maybe, we believed the Presidential election was going to test our political patience, but that’s about all. We weren’t suited to handle the problems that came beyond that. What came across the felt, we felt, seemed to trump, yes Trump, the ideology of half our nation’s views. The other half spent minutes Biden their time (pun stolen from social media) until the final card was counted on some date on, or after, November 3rd.

Now, at least, I think we have some resolution on this. After all the post-election shuffling by one wheeler-dealer, we should be swearing in a new President on January 20th, 2021.

That’s seven weeks from now. As it stands and we sit at the table, this virus is still here – and it’s quite the pro at knowing what cards we have without even peeking over our shoulders. It knows our houses are not full – of people or hope like we had. It knows we’re not thinking straight, sometimes, because we worry about our finances, jobs, elderly relatives, schools, and communities. It knows some pairs are not together anymore because the emotional stress from the last nine months was just too much. It knows some faces are flushed and are no longer alive and aglow with vim and vigor for life. These once fresh, snappy smiles are now in the struggle of their lives … learning how to breathe all over again, or, perhaps holding the hand of someone they love.

This is what 2020 dealt us. All of us, whether you are sitting at the table or not, are playing to stay alive. This may not suit or be the most convenient, but we have no choice to play the game of pandemic poker right now.

However, we do have 19th century words of advice speaking to us from the well-worn sagely deck shown. If you listen, you will hear. They’ve survived two card wars before our time and solitary moments as one upon thousands sat in convalescent facilities hoping a grandchild would visit, or a lost spouse’s hand could hold their loved one’s heart one more time.

And it is these words:

Forty-eight weeks into a year of really trying to understand ourselves. Four weeks to go … four colors in a deck representing the four seasons we have experienced 75% of in limited glory. Spring, summer and fall – the magnificence of rain, sun, and leaves all tainted by a virus … with pure white snow to come, surely palen ahead of schedule. Thirteen, so unlucky, … hopefully the moon will cycle around our Aces through Kings, our 1s through 13s, to lower our numbers and help us become at least average again. I’ll take a push … a bet with my money back against the dealer. To hope for anything better – a winning hand right now – is a fool’s folly.

The virus is still here at the table and has the deck. For now. It’s 2020 and we’re here. The poker room is hugely huge and fully full with people of all nationalities, sizes, shapes, beliefs, and haircuts. This is such a unique game of poker, though. There’s only one freakin’ deck. The standard rules don’t apply and the dealer cheats.

Oh, although I’m a recreational player, can’t say I know how to win. Even if I had true 2020 vision, the chances of my figuring a way around the poker table here? Zilch. Nada. Zero. All I can offer up are my hopes and dreams of a better 2021. That’s it. A “Brand new 52” is dealt to us then – as this flippin’ year comes to a close December 31st at 11:59:59 when the ball drops, silently I’m sure, in New York city.

Oh, what a big deal next year will be!

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