Amy Ruffle says thank you to 2020
Melbourne based actress & creative, Amy Ruffle shares what she's thankful for from the year that was like no other.
As the countdown to New Years Eve looms and the deadline to finish my annual thank you list approaches, the natural instinct is to reject the concept all together. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know in stating that 2020 was nothing short of a shocker... So why on earth does a year we’d all rather forget deserve a thank you list?!!
But as I sit here contemplating the exercise, a sentiment that rings true to me in my day to day life popped into my head and I think very much applies. The sentiment is that we can't control an external situation, only our perspective on it. So for the purpose of this exercise, I will take this shit show of a year and view it through the lens of the positive moments however small, and lessons learnt along the way.
It doesn’t erase the pain, nor diminish its value, but allows us to reflect upon a year of massive change and adaptation and recognize how resilient a people we are.
I am thankful to have made it to the end of 2020 and am glad you have too. So without further ado, I present to you, a thank you list to the year from hell.
Thank you to Zoom. It was love at first sight when we met back in March. I’d never heard your name before and out of the blue, you swept me off my feet into an intense, all consuming relationship. You gave me companionship unlike any I had known before and gave me connection as long as your connection was strong. Oh we laughed! We talked into the night! We played weird games! We muted on the toilet! We asked “can you hear me” too many times. They were the best of times in the worst of times… but our relationship became unhealthy. I was too dependent on you. You were all I had and we went too hard, too fast. It was a passion-filled love affair and while I once loved you and needed you, the time came to disconnect. I needed to find out who I was without you. See other people. Discover if I could still hold a conversation without any time delay or internet lag. Our relationship helped me learn about myself, but now that I can see someone face to face, in the words of Taylor Swift, we are never, ever, ever getting back together.
Thank you to the phrase “One Day At A Time” for being a lifeline and mantra through this whole year. When things went awry in March and all plans and schedules went out the door, there was some major reassessing and reframing of one’s life that needed to be done. Normal expectations and rules could no longer be applied because the entire game had changed. And so in the haze of utter chaos and confusion, one phrase would rise supreme and embody the spirit of our COVID riddled world, providing some sense of calm and comfort. One day at a time taught me to not stress about a future that didn’t exist yet and that worry is just a misuse of our imaginations. One day at a time taught me to be present in the moment and focus on what is right there in front of us. And one day at a time taught me not to take one day for granted. Nothing is guaranteed and all we have is today, so enjoy it.
Thank you to my top half for carrying the load on video calls, while my bottom half resigned to a full time life of pyjama pants. I absolutely mastered the mullet of outfits by leaning HARD into business up top and party down below. Make up done, hair washed, earrings on, nice blouse to round it out…. Aaaaaaand pyjama pants. Or maybe tracksuit pants if we’re getting fancy. Biiiiiggggg bed socks. And slippers on top of said socks. Out of that Zoom frame it was a chaotic mismatch of fabrics and energy and I salute myself from the hips up for all it did to appear like I was slightly in control.
Thank you to North Face, Donut Days and Bunnings metaphors for being a fun, communal experience through the endless press conferences of July through October. It never failed to bring a smile to my face to see the internet lose its mind when Dan Andrews rocked the North Face ON A WEEK DAY, or how quickly we as an entire city jumped on the Donut bandwagon on that magical first day of zero cases. As cheesy as it sounds, these acknowledgements of shared experiences really did give a sense of togetherness while we were trapped so far apart. And to know I wasn’t the only one glued to my screen and slowly losing it while waiting for the fateful 11am press conference was quite comforting.
Thank you to Lifeline for taking my call. I would be lying if I said there weren't some rough days through that second lockdown. I am an inherently positive person, but there were absolutely moments where it was hard to see a path out, hard to find the optimism to keep moving forward and hard to find the energy to keep on fighting. The uncertainty and unknown of it all was overwhelming and very anxiety inducing. For me, being able to talk through the thoughts in my head was an absolute game changer and helped me put things in perspective and make them not as scary.
To have the avenue to do that in a safe and welcome environment was huge. It allowed me to voice my feelings and have them validated. To feel seen and heard in a moment where I felt invisible. Lifeline is a great resource and is there to be used. No problem is too big or too small. If you’re not feeling okay, if things feel overwhelming, if it feels like someone is sitting on your chest and you can't get a full breath in or it feels like there are too many thoughts and feelings swirling inside you and that you might pop (are these too specific?!?!) then call!!! We need you to stay here and getting support is the bravest thing you can do.
Thank you to the man working at Woolworths who made my entire week the time we conversed in the mushroom section of the store. After not having face to face contact with anyone outside of my home for weeks on end, this employee stocking fungi noted my outfit (I was at the stage of isolation where I took my weekly trip to the store VERY seriously and as a chance to dress up fancy, don a pair of earrings and of course select a matching mask) and we struck up a GLORIOUS ten minute conversation. I couldn’t tell you a word of what was said, but I cried all the way home, equal parts affected by the delight of talking to someone new, and the generosity of this stranger to give his time to an over-dressed patron who was clearly craving a chat. I’ll never know who that kind employee was, but boy was there some magic in the mushrooms that day.
Thank you to park rendezvous for being a delightful surprise to come from COVID safe gatherings. I don’t know about you, but my 30 year old friends and I weren’t hanging out and playing games in the park much in 2019. Like so many other suckers, we were overspending on drinks in bars, while we screamed over music that was too loud, to try and have a conversation. This new foray into picnic style parties full of frisbees and boardgames and giant Jenga absolutely hit that nostalgia button HARD and harks back to a childhood memory of simpler times in the sunshine. Why on earth we were ever gathering in a location that didn’t allow you to make your own cheese board is now baffling to me?! I hope we continue to flood local parks with our Mercer Valley cheese and someone’s homemade sourdough well beyond our COVID normal times.
Thank you to Brooklyn Nine Nine and Community for being the exact level of fun and easy TV viewing I needed. Look, I came into this thing with big expectations - knock out The Wire and The Sopranos. Two absolute classics of television that I’ve always wanted to watch and now I was going to have arguably the most time I'd ever have to watch them… perfect right?! However my brain was little more than cottage cheese during lockdown number 2. All its energy was going to simply processing the continual stress and anxiety of reality, and so Wire/Sopranos level of focus and tension from what was supposed to be my escapism was not going to cut it. Settling in for 6 seasons of easy hangs and good times with the gangs of Community and Brooklyn Nine Nine transported me away from the constant plot twists and cliffhangers of my own life, and to the fantasy world full of pillow forts and halloween heists. I will include Schitt’s Creek and New Girl into this list, but didn’t want to lead with that up top because that is FOUR shows that ran for over SIX seasons and now y’all really know how much TV I watched…
Thank you to the artists who continued to make content. My goodness performing to your computer screen, in your home, usually only half dressed, with no feedback from the “audience” sucks. The endless vortex of the World Wide Web provides no response or reassurance that the live performance is being received well and it can be so deflating and draining to “perform” online, shut your laptop and then stare around at your apartment wondering what on earth just happened. Thank you for all the instagram lives, the twitch streams, virtual comedy shows/music performances ect… being provided with original and current content was very comforting and a reminder that in some ways life did go on.
Thank you to every stranger who tried to communicate through their mask while out in public. That one hour of exercise was prime time of the day and seeing almost everyone struggle to try and acknowledge their fellow mask clad neighbour out on a walk really made me smile. For two reasons really. 1. Because it never quite worked and we never really figured out how to do it, so the interaction was always a little weird and we all looked a little silly and deranged. And 2. Because we were bothering to notice the world and the people around us. A simple acknowledgement of another that said “I see you and I am with you”. An eye contact held rather than diverted, as we shared this communal challenge. I continue to hold that eye contact now and am delighted I all can match it with a smile.
Thank you to every member of the general public that has been present while I cried doing a thing for the first time post lockdown. After losing any and all social norms through isolation, and an inflated sense of gratitude for simply leaving my house, let’s just say I got pretty overwhelmed with joy doing almost everything in the real world again. I cried happy tears walking into a cafe for the first time, the cinemas for the first time, a gym for the first time, hugging a friend for the first time, baking 10 cupcakes knowing it meant 10 people were gathering to eat them...Oh it’s been a wet, sopping mess, but a glorious one at that and I won't apologize for my appreciation and love for these simple things.
However I certainly have many people to thank for their patience and lack of judgment of the weeping puddle of a human walking into their establishment.
Thank you to every person who gave up so much so we don’t have to now. In the moment, while we melted into our couches and 5km radius’, it was impossible to conceive a time where it would all feel worth it… but to now be able to move around our beautiful city, share meals with friends and family, have sport on at the MCG, go to the movies, travel to a Coles SIX kms away… well it's all a little slice of heaven. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, hospital staff and front line workers that made this all possible. Your sacrifices were heroic and while staying home was hard, putting your life on the line was harder. You gave our city a second chance and we are eternally grateful for your dedication to those in need.
Now go enjoy the elements of normality after a year of absolute abnormality Melbourne. Devour the scrumptious smorgasbord of opportunities available to you. And while you're at it, make sure to say a big thank you to 2020 for making us grateful to no longer have to kick off every conversation with “Can you hear me?”!