One of the most useful lessons I learned on my year off was to live
presently; no matter what is going on, to be mindful of what I am feeling and to
listen to what those feelings are telling me. That skill was valuable throughout
2020 as I had to deal with lockdown and the nonstop stream of unfortunate news.
The entire year felt like my anxiety and depression Super Bowl. I’ve been
learning how to manage, learning how to sit with my feelings, learning how to be
alone and okay.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult. Just look at what I let happen to my
facial hair. But I took time to enjoy the small things and even
learned some new things. And hopefully 2021 will bring slivers
of hope and progress.
My 2020 Began in Florida. At the beach, of course.
I was down for a few weeks visiting friends and family during the holidays. My
Dad had his knee replaced in early January so I spent that week with my parents
before flying back to NYC.
After working remotely on and off for 10 years, I decided to get a proper desk
instead of using kitchen counters. For my NYC apartment I got a standing
desk (and a monitor #treatyoself).
I had Big Plans to learn a few new things throughout the year and wanted to do
so with a comfortable setup. You can probably guess how those Big Plans turned
Somewhat ironically, I couldn’t use the setup for half the year after I went
full time remote from FL in March.
On this particular day a coworker and I took a break from work to seesaw on
Things like this seem like they were so long ago.
In late February I flew to Atlanta for a week-long training. The course
was intensive so I was unplugged from the outside world. Only after I left did I
begin to hear of the virus making its way much closer to home.
At the end of the week everyone in the class hiked to the top of Stone Mountain
(yes, that one).
This is my family sporting our finest loungewear.
After the training in Atlanta we got together for a weekend to celebrate
From Georgia I drove to Alabama to spend a week with Price and Sydney. I
worked remotely that week then we went for a hike over the weekend.
The bottle of hand sanitizer on my backpack was purchased from a nearby CVS
which had already imposed a limit of 1 per person. I’d be flying to Florida the
On March 8th I flew from Atlanta to West Palm Beach to spend what I thought was
going to be 3 weeks in Florida. Some people were already wearing masks at the
airport, even though at this point we were being told that masks didn’t do
anything. Had my flight been even a couple of days later I probably would not
have taken it.
A Winter escape is normal for me; the season hits me pretty hard (depression
etc). It’s amazing how much of a mental shift takes place when I leave the cold
darkness for sunshine and warmth. Walking outside without having to suit up
feels like a luxury. Swimming in the ocean is a delicacy.
I was supposed to be in Florida for a few weeks of working remotely then I’d be
back to NYC for Spring. The universe had other plans. Cases in NYC rose quickly.
Lockdowns began. I didn’t get on my return flight at the end of the month. I had
my first encounter with a “it’s no worse than the flu” person.
Shortly after this picture was taken an iguana fell from the palm tree above me
and barely missed my head.
This was our last trip to the beach before they were closed.
What this picture doesn’t show is that Holden’s face was painted like a tiger. I
think by Lillie.
Palm Beach County schools closed on March 16, extending Spring Break
by one week. School was then virtual until Summer. New York restrictions
began on March 17. All beaches and non-essential businesses in Palm Beach County
were closed beginning March 19.
I lived with Sara and her family while I was in Florida.
This wasn’t my first time living with them for a while, the last time being
during part of my year off. When I arrived in March I overheard Holden say
“Dad! Uncle Brian is home!”. ❤️
I felt incredibly lucky to have been with family through the beginning of
This was taken on Easter. We had a quarantine egg hunt with the neighbors: they
hid eggs in our yard for the kids to find. Then we hid eggs in their yard.
This was our first time leaving the house to do something in almost 2 months.
Sara, Lillie, Holden and I picked up food and found a secluded spot at the back
of a parking lot by the Intracoastal to eat. The kids played on some rocks. We
saw a few people walking on a trail nearby. It was nice to get out of the
When the beaches opened back up we decided to show up really early one day to
beat everyone else there. We had about an hour of playing before the crowds
showed up and we left. And the surf was way too rough to go swimming - pictures
somehow never depict this, but the waves were breaking at my chest height.
But that hour was beautiful.
When lockdown began and everyone couldn’t get haircuts, I decided to grow my
hair out with them. I’ve been cutting my own hair since college so I could have
just continued doing that. But I’d been wanting to grow it out, and since I
wasn’t around anyone I could get through the awkward growing out phase in
My beard was the first to go. I got tired of it and had to shave.
Sorry about the mustache - it’s not all glamour around here.
When school let out for the Summer, Sara and the kids and I drove up to Georgia.
Our only stop on the drive was a rest area on the Turnpike. Surprisingly
(because Florida), about 80% of the people inside had masks on. It was my first
encounter with a lot of people indoors since quarantine began and my anxiety was
Mom, Dad, and Granny were leaving the lake to go back home that day, but they
stayed for a few hours of overlap after we arrived. We spent time on the dock in
our first socially distanced family get-together.
Sara and the kids stayed for a week. I stayed for what has ended up being an
After isolating at the lake house for 2 weeks, I drove to my parents' house to
help them with a move they had planned before all of this began.
Mostly I just wanted to hang out with their dog.
I spent the next few weeks with them during the packing and unpacking. Here they
are at their old house.
At the beginning of quarantine we scheduled a weekly call to keep each other
company. The one topic on everyone’s mind: how can we safely do the lake house
this summer? It would be our 10th year gathering.
So we did. And it was great. And nobody got the rona. And we continue having our
My apartment lease was up at the end of the summer so I had to drive to NYC to
move out. Luckily I only had a bed and some kitchen things up there, so Price
and I made the trip up and back in 3 days in a minivan. I sold my desk
in NYC and bought a new one in Georgia so I didn’t have to move it.
Since NY had a mandatory quarantine for anyone staying longer than 24 hours, we
drove into the city, packed the van, and left all in under 4 hours. We stopped
to have a picnic with a friend in PA.
I really enjoyed this road trip, despite the level of difficulty added by the
pandemic. We took I-81 instead of I-95 because the scenery through the mountains
is so picturesque. This was also my first time driving in NYC!
This is my roommate, Victoria, and I up on the roof of our building. It’s too
bad we only got to live together for a couple of months.
My hair was getting to be a lot to deal with so I shaved it off at the end of
the summer. As much as I wanted to keep growing it out, it was getting
unruly and hot.
Back to feeling the breeze on my head.
This is almost a daily occurrence during the Summer. Jets from the nearby Air
Force base fly what has to be a couple hundred feet above the lake.
Throughout 2020 it was important to be present and appreciate a joyful moment.
As much as I love the long sunny days of Summer, one of my favorite things about
this time of year is seeing the stars late at night. On this particular evening
I even camped on the dock.
I’ve taken pictures of the Milky Way in the past and I think they get better
each year. This year I even took two!
This was my first time camping on the dock since I was a teenager. It was late
enough in the Summer to stay cool all night.
I enjoy camping, but waking up surrounded by water is another experience. I love
These geese are getting ready to make their migration even further south. Sadly,
the Summer is ending soon.
I learned how to ride a foil board this Fall.
I grew up doing various water sports, but this was a completely new experience.
Foil boarding has a higher learning curve, but it feels like you’re on a magic
carpet ride when you learn to keep the board out of the water.
Another first for me this year: I bought a wetsuit so I could stay in the water
even after it got cold.
As the winter nears the Milky Way is not as visible, but I was still able
to get this photo from the dock one night.
November was the first month that I spent multiple weeks alone at the lake
house. I’d gone a handful of days alone in the past, but as the weather turns
cold there’s no reason for anyone else to be there. The isolation was a bit
difficult at times but I found a good daily rhythm and focused on being present.
One benefit of being near the Space Coast is having the opportunity to
photograph rockets launching. This was a SpaceX launch carrying Starlink
I visited my Parents and Granny for Thanksgiving. We called my siblings on
FaceTime during dinner.
I don’t like the winter. Rather, the winter can make me depressed. So when the sun
is out I sometimes bundle up and spend time outside. On this particular day I
got in my hammock. It’s one way I relax and center myself.
This was my first winter paddle boarding trip. I put my wetsuit on and paddled
around for almost an hour. I even jumped in the water and went swimming. The
water was super cold but the sun and lack of breeze made it tolerable.
I never get tired of sunsets across the lake. This one was particularly striking
As 2020 was coming to a close, I had a lot of time to myself to reflect and to
look forward. The hope of vaccines had me feeling like 2021 could be a bit
brighter. This picture for me symbolizes the transition from a year of despair
to one of hope.
One day I woke up and there was a layer of fog resting on the top of the lake.
It looked soupy and kind of creepy?