I was fairly irritable at the beginning of 2020— I felt fat, and party invites were stacking on each other. My reaction to our first shelter-in-place order was probably different than yours: I felt relieved. No more small talk and peacocking for awhile, or generally obsessing about what to wear or wine bottle to bring. I planned to spend some overdue time with family and to work on every overdue and neglected project I could find, from cleaning out my closets to making fabulous jumpsuits.
The silence and isolation became my friend for a long while. The first few months of quarantine and social distance felt like detox from what had become an excessive list of distractions. I do actually remember the last time in life I had this much creative focus: I was in undergrad and generally friendless, and living alone. I filled many free hours practicing violin and starting new student publications.
Likewise, today, I’ve made literally thousands of masks and other garments. I launched an online store and personal website, and I began collaborations with more than a dozen artists, along with a new seamstress, mentor, pattern maker and production partnership with a Castro boutique.
I’ve also written a lot. This column approaches nearly 30 of them since I began writing for The Examiner 12 months ago.
“Social distance” and quiet, however, are no longer apt descriptors for the seismic shift in my personal community. Many friends have moved away, others forgot how phones work. Some relationships have seemingly ended without any words exchanged, and along with them, my perspective on life in The City has shifted. I have a newfound love and focus on my creative projects, which seem to multiply every day, and a much smaller Rolodex of people I call and check up on. I often catch myself mourning the people who didn’t check in the past year, but in other ways, I’m reflective and ready for change, too.
It has been suggested to me more than once that maybe 2020 and the pandemic served as a big reset button, that possibly the deep bonds and also grudges we held within our communities will start over. I can’t say I’m convinced of that, but another doctor theorized recently that our excessive shut-in behavior the past year will be followed by an equally excessive need to socialize. In a recent interview about my apparel work, a journalist asked what my 2021 resolutions were. I said without hesitating, “I just want a real Pride festival to happen. I want to date and hook up with men without fear of infection. I want to go back to being inspired by The City and its parties. And as every year before it, I want to be a bigger attention whore than I was in this year.”
It’s a little strange to me how much I miss that life now that it’s been gone so long. Given the anxiety we’ve grown accustomed to having over indoor spaces this past year, I wonder if we’ll immediately rebound into bars, concert halls and movie theaters. Having said that, I do think it will be a pretty epic and extended celebration once this prolonged social dry spell is finally over.
Change and growth have not been easy this past year, but I am excited to see what 2021 brings us, and I look forward to seeing many old friends again. This column publishes right after the new year, and with it I’ll leave you with a celebratory cocktail. Bubbles and sugar are my favorite especially this time of year, as is anything in a martini glass.
Pear Martini Sparkler
• 1.5 ounces pear vodka of choice
• 1.5 ounces St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
• Chilled Champagne or sparkling wine of choice
• 1 Meyer lemon
• 1 crisp pear
• Granulated white sugar
Directions: Cut lemon into wedges, and run one of the wedges along the rim of a chilled martini glass, then dip the rim in sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add vodka and elderflower liqueur. Shake vigorously and strain liquid into martini glass. Garnish cocktail with a slice of pear, and serve.
Saul Sugarman is a San Francisco-based writer, event producer and apparel designer. Read more of his content and buy his wares at saulsugarman.com. He is a guest columnist and his opinions are not necessarily that of the Examiner.