I don’t mean to sound glib, but it’s true: 2020 knocked me right back to an earlier time, an era when my brain was less organized, my autonomic system geared more toward fight than flight and life was a daring adventure filled with mystery and exciting, sinister forces.

I acquired a puppy this year, a husband-encouraged whim and one which I do not regret even though, true to form, I catastrophize the future, worrying that she is getting too much exercise and her bones will grow funny, or that she’ll dart into traffic and I’ll have to fling myself between her and oncoming cars, or that she’ll eat a chicken bone off the street again and this time things might not turn out quite so rosy.

In 2020, I learned how much I care about my friends. Yes, that should have been clearer to me before the pandemic happened and all of a sudden I was deprived of their company, but still. Better late than never. To all of you who have extended your friendship toward me over the years, please know that I’m grateful and in awe of the profound and simple importance of your being in the world.

In 2020, I learned that intellectual disagreement could turn sour — bitter, even. Let me restate that more clearly, because it sounds so naïve. In 2020, I learned that intellectual disagreements of mine with people I viewed as sparring partners in a fun game could mask a far deeper dispute and stand in for character flaws that lead to death.

Yes, that dark perennial cloud, that miasma that blankets all our years but suffocates human life more efficiently some years than others: death. It has to be said, 2020 was a big year for death and its little buddy, disease.

This year, I fell off my bicycle and fell down the stairs and suffered notable injuries each time, but I bounced (I am bouncing) back, the way one does when one is young. 2020 has been pitiless toward the old and the infirm, so I had to behave like a person whose whole life was before her, and heal quickly. I’m grateful to my body and my will — my stupid, optimistic disposition and my luck — for this reprieve from age, this opportunity to dip my toes, my feet, my whole body, into the cooling spa of youth.

2020 has been the shittiest of years, the weirdest, most surreal and saddest of years. This has been the year the bottom fell out of America’s self-regard and sent that country and all our hopes for a clean End of History into the gutter along with all the other detritus of Earth’s checkered past.

I’ll admit, the thought of democracy degrading and disintegrating into mere flotsam has been a drag. Fatiguing, disquieting, unbelievable and enraging. If I’m to be honest with myself, I have to face the fact that my telomeres have probably shrunk back into a defensive posture similar to my diminished satisfaction vis a vis the future of civilization.

Yet in 2020, I learned (again, and more) that the reason humanity prevails over loss, even as individual members of the collective succumb, is that there is this thing called love. It is the only thing, it is everything, it is our purpose and the engine that moves us along over the tracks.

We inch forward, our souls squeal, effortfully, metal on metal, toward the future and in the name of love. As this plague year draws to a close, let’s remember — as if we could forget! — that our existence is a brief miracle, a short, orgasmic flash of light pulsing outward to the mysterious darkness. Our job is to pose, lovingly and glamorously, in the klieg lights of confusion and opportunity shone on us by a weird, mysterious universe.

So, bottoms up, my darlings! Happy New Year to all and may 2021 be the year we all remember the feeling of being young: hope, sex, puzzling conundrums and joy. ❤

Writing for Quillette, Committing Sociology Areo and more. Connect @GWeynerowski and http://weynerowski.com/.