At first thought, 2021 feels like a blur. It sort of just flew by for me, without much fanfare.
But then, more specific memories start to flood in. The joy of my first COVID shot in a dim basketball arena in Santa Cruz. Staying in my parents’ houses for the first time since 2019. The perfect Brooklyn brunch, at the perfect bistro, with a friend from college I was so happy to see.
2021 didn’t bring giant change for me and despite my deepest hopes, didn’t bring the end of COVID either. Still, within the fuzziness of it all, there were bright spots of reunions and trips and seeing more friends.
I spent hours baking a cake that only I ate. I found new corners of San Francisco to explore. I got promoted. I spent way too much on coffee. I went on Zoom dates and date walks and asked everyone I met up with if they were vaccinated, or not.
I’ve kept my “activity log” for years, and I’m always so glad I have it. Especially when the days and months start to blend together, it’s comforting to have a record of the moments that mattered, in the moment. Every week I write down the things I want to remember, that made me happy or felt meaningful at the time. And especially this year, it was therapeutic to read. 2021 was a jumble of uncertainty and emotion, with peaks and valleys as we all waited to see what comes next. But in there, mixed in with the uncountable hours I’ve spent at this very desk, there were so many moments of joy and happiness, relief and renewal, belief and bonding.
Is this the real life?
I started the year still essentially isolated, spending most my time alone and looking for novel ways to entertain myself at home. On January 1st, I opened my year with the “Ratatouille” musical stream, a surprisingly delightful way to kick off the year. Then I signed up for an online bachata workshop, which I actually already forgot about, until I just saw it in my notes. And like I did in 2020, I spent hours every week wandering San Francisco, seeing what else I could find.
After getting vaccinated, I started to slowly extend my life back outwards. I shifted more of my time from virtual socializing and online activities, to seeing people in real life and real time. I reached out to friends I hadn’t seen since COVID began. I developed strong opinions on the best parklets, and the best streets for outdoor dining.
My online and physical worlds blurred in meaningful ways, too. Last year I wrote about my love for the band Sofi Tukker, and the beautiful community that formed during their virtual livestreams. This year I got to meet several other fans in actual, real life. It felt surreal to meet all these people I’d only ever seen dancing on Zoom. Getting to dance with them for reals, at a bar in my own neighborhood, was one of my favorite moments of 2021.
A reading rainbow
I’ve always been a big reader. When I was a kid, I literally took books everywhere we went. In 2021, I took my reading on the road. I spent a LOT of time at cafes and bars, sitting outside with a drink and a book. From my favorite coffee shop in San Francisco to a Brooklyn bar with French poetry at every table (!!!), I made reading outside a big part of my weekly routine.
Felicia goes east
I’ve long wanted to spend more time in New York, and this summer I decided I might as well go for it. So I spent a month in Carroll Gardens, working by day and exploring by night. I got to see friends, family and so many new parts of the city. Since I was working, I still spent a lot of time inside on a laptop. But flipping coasts helped shift my energy, and a sunny summer in New York was exactly what I needed.
The baking roundup
I made 31 recipes in 2021, and 87% were new to me. More than any other year, I did a lot of experiments with spices and seeds, like black sesame, fenugreek and cardamom. I also made a lot of super complicated, super long recipes, like yeasted buns and intricate cakes.
Onto the next one
In June, one of my regular baristas told me that he saw a shift in how people interacted with him post-vaccine. For a long time, people were dashing in and out as quickly as they could, grabbing their coffee with a short “hi.” Now, people were trying to make small talk again—and he felt rusty.
And don’t we all? No matter how you’ve spent your time these last couple years, I’m confident it wasn’t your normal. We’re all rusty on something, whether it’s socializing or planning travel or remembering how to get to a physical office by a specific time. Unprecedented times may now feel somewhat precedented, sadly, as we enter our third year of COVID. But that doesn’t mean we can expect to feel totally normal. We’re still removed from many of our regular routines and habits and expectations. There are skills we haven’t practiced, rituals we forgot, people we haven’t seen. There’s still this extremely odd negotiation as we make so many decisions every day about where to go, and what we’re comfortable with, and who to see.
But here we are. And so, onto the next one. I hope your 2022 is full of joy and exploration and wonder. And even if it feels a bit fuzzy, that you make memories that last.
2021 fun facts
- Best meal: Barrio de Cocina in San Diego
- Favorite coffee: Suited in NYC
- Books read: 25, and you can see most of them here. I also read the New Yorker every week and subscribe to a literary journal that I adore.
- Most peaceful day: Wandering the beaches near Cambria, California
- Most “before times” night: Dessert and bar hopping with a friend from work
- Times I mentioned coffee in my weekly log: 30
- Vaccines received: 4. Three for COVID, and a flu shot!
- Car rentals: 3
- Times I somehow ended up detoured in actual farm fields: 1
- Friend I saw after the longest time apart: My friend Rachael, who I’d last seen in Japan in 2016.
- Baton videos filmed for work: 2
- Times I wrote “walk” in my weekly log: 119. But I take walks every day—see more pics here.
Some favorite snaps
Ok, fine. A lot of snaps. I couldn’t pick!