All great stories are about home. There has never been a great story that is not about home. The story of the hour is not the U.S. election, and it is not the novel coronavirus. The story of the year is home.
It began in March when a deadly virus brought 216 countries and territories to a complete stop. It sounded like a single message translated into dozens of languages: “Please stop what you are doing and go home.”
At first, we could not believe our ears. Who could imagine? Are they serious? All of us? Home? We began to make our way, but the virus was already here. Not everyone would make it home.
216 countries and territories were motionless. We could not believe our eyes. Streets were barren. Playgrounds empty. Church bells silent. Games canceled. Weddings postponed. Travel suspended indefinitely.
As the experts began counting the sick and dying, we began to check who was safe at home. It took time to sort things out and not everyone could be accounted for.
In home, we found other people. They had always been there, but rarely like this. At home, we were alone. In solitude or surrounded, we could not escape. There was no world outside to escape to. Everyone was either home or was making a new one, wherever they were found.
216 countries and territories. Billions of people. Most bearing a similar question in mind: What happens, if I leave home? What happens if I stay?
Some fled the virus by foot and by imagination. Yet the virus had already asserted that the world was its home, and we, the human beings, were now the guests. It altered our lives much faster than we could affect it. Some people could not make it home. Some did not make it home. An unusual number of people died at home.
The rest of us? We learned, taught, sang, danced, laughed, cried, fought, cheered, jeered, loved, raged, read, cooked, cleaned, slept, and woke in the comfort and the madness of home.
One person took to the streets. Another took to a capitol building. We took to each other, in love, desperation, and sharp disagreement. To each, an idea of home. To each, a reason of their own– nefarious or pure. We stood up for home. What it means to have a home. What it is like to lose it. Whether we are safe inside it. Whether we get to return to it. And who gets to decide.
Again, not everyone made it. We remember their names.
From the view of home, we slowly comprehended that life would not be the same. We learned to get on with it, inside and outside of home. Because life and love had to find a way– virus or no virus.
It will seem obvious looking back. The great story of the year was not who won an election in one country of 216. In context, it is one event inside someone else’s story of home. What always mattered was always up to us.
If the virus has taught us anything, it is that we have to take care of each other. We have to take care of our home. What we took for granted was more fragile than we knew.
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