On the Beat: Turning out light on 2020, waking up to hope in 2021

The smartphone, recharging while sitting on a desk in our bedroom, dinged at 11:22 p.m. Thursday night. I was lying in bed reading “The Spirit of St. Louis.” Although the outcome of Charles Lindbergh’s flight to Paris is known, it’s still a page-turner to see if he’s going to stay on course over the North Atlantic and find Ireland.

A friend from here in Philomath had texted me a Happy New Year greeting to bring my phone to life. Earlier in the evening, my wife and I had been consumed by our family routines, which includes getting the kids to bed while I try to finish up some work. The baby goes down first and a little later, the 3-year-old stops by my desk for a kiss goodnight before trotting down the hallway to his bedroom for mom’s reading of “Big Red Barn” — a title that has become his go-to before turning out the lights.

The text brought me out of Lindbergh’s cramped cockpit and back to the real world. Yes, it had slipped my mind, but this was actually New Year’s Eve. Perhaps we should try to stay up until midnight and celebrate in some way. A toast with a taste of the pinot noir that remained from Christmas. Sharing a kiss at the strike of 12 with my lovely wife— I had proposed to her on New Year’s Eve exactly 10 years ago.

But we didn’t have any celebration in us. Canda swiped through her phone for a bit before turning out the light. I found a good stopping point in the book, positioned the pillow just the way I like it and started to drift. But we were still awake when midnight arrived with fireworks exploding in the distance. We may have mumbled “Happy New Year” to one another in the moment — I’m not quite sure.

In our household, 2020 had been quietly left behind while 2021 arrived without much fanfare. In the corners of my own mind, the new year represents hope for better times ahead — and not just for myself and my family, but for this community, this nation.

Hope that the children are able to get back in school. My wife and I remarked a while back that we feel lucky neither of our kids are in school yet. My oldest son had challenges with his schoolwork back when he was in high school and I can’t imagine how he would’ve gotten through this situation. And for the little ones just starting out as kindergarteners, the socialization aspect and interaction with a teacher while learning just seems so important to their development.

Hope that the city heads into a positive direction with a new mayor and new council. Philomath has gone through growing pains over the past few years and distrust in government seems to be at an all-time high. Some of those coming on board have voiced varying levels of disapproval in certain situations and although there’s nothing wrong with that, it does make you wonder how differing viewpoints and personalities will be able to come together to get things done that ultimately benefit our citizens. However, we have to be positive and confident that the process will work.

Hope that sports return to Philomath High School. I’ve been covering athletics at every level — from a 9/10 Little League game up to professionals fighting for a championship and everything in between. I’ve seen how sports can positively impact our young people in so many ways. This absence must be taking a toll on our youth, especially when you consider it’s no longer an outlet in their lives. Heck, the adults are even struggling with no opportunities to root on their kids or get out of the house to take in a ballgame.

Hope that our businesses bounce back and new ones spring to life. The restrictions and shutdowns have taken a toll on the bottom line, I doubt there’s little reason to think otherwise. But I have the general sense that a lot of Philomath businesses are maneuvering through this COVID-19 maze in the best way possible and hopefully, they’ll come out OK on the other side. In the near future, perhaps we’ll see new entrepreneurs join the Philomath business community, especially with the possibilities of the coming streetscapes project.

In general, hope that this pandemic will just slow down and some sort of normalcy returns to our lives. It’s been a long run since the madness in March erupted and we’ve lost a lot of lives. I’m ready to turn out the light on 2020 and fight through the challenges that remain, much like Lindbergh did to land safely at Le Bourget.

We’ll get there and although we won’t celebrate with a ticker-tape parade like our famous aviator, we will hopefully be able to smile a lot more — and without masks.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at [email protected]).

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