On March 17, 2021

Reflections on a year like no other

By Merisa Sherman
Covid-19 changed everything but the sunsets. Well, they may have actually gotten better.

By Merisa Sherman

As I write this article I am trying to fathom the past year. In some ways, the memories are so amazingly precise and in others, it feels like we have all been living in a dream. I cannot decide which is more the dream — the boisterous life that we had before or this strangely quiet new one. But my mind keeps going back to that first week, that world-altering transition when the world shut down around us. It was a week of shock and acceptance, of contradictions and commitment, and the experience of a generation.

After what would be my last night of work for quite a while, I joined my fellow restaurant workers for a night I’ll never forget. As Killington announced its closing, we partied like it was 1999, unsure of the future and frightened down to our toes. That night we danced and loved with all our hearts, not sure when or if we would see each other again. We got on stage and sang with the band, we hugged each other tightly as we told secrets and wished the night would never end. The next morning, I skinned up Killington on a perfectly bluebird spring day, the mountain eerily quiet. No tailgating, no chairlifts, no people. That week, we found temporary sanctuary by walking, earning our turns as we celebrated life. The BF and I snuggled quietly while we watched the sun set before skiing down in the darkness. With our jobs evaporated and uncertainty looming in the distance, at least we had this week to cherish our beloved mountains and be reminded of how lucky we really are.

By Merisa Sherman
The BF heads through one of Killington Resort’s tunnels. Pandemic-restrictions made skinning the only way to get on snow.

I spent time on The Bench that week, sitting quietly and letting my mind wander. I timed my breath to the heaving of the ice as I looked across the frozen water, willing my mind to accept the uncertainty of what was to come. Between the changes and the quiet, my mind wouldn’t stop spinning. Meditating on that bench grounded me, exhausting my brain and refocusing my energy as I tried to sort out what was happening.

And then came Zoom. That first shared happy hour with my family, interacting with face to face sometimes for the first time in years. Those original Zooms broke the ice, as we struggled to wrap our heads around this new, life-altering technology. But that struggling united us through a shared experience, as we all tried to figure out how not to point the camera up our nose or the best way to work on our dance routines. It made us laugh, if only for a moment. And we could allow ourself this moment of freedom because we were cheering up our friends and family.

We did new things, like get a sourdough bread starter which now dominates our lives and made ridiculously creative meals because it was something to do. We stayed close to home, in some ways marking the boundaries of our new reality and setting what were thought were depressingly realistic goals for the future. We had peace to notice our surroundings, and made plans for the most dramatic spring cleanings ever imagined. We were worried about each other, and so we once again showed how we were Vermont Strong.

By the end of the week, communities all across the state had already raised thousands of dollars, the National Guard was starting construction on emergency extension hospitals in donated commercial spaces. Out of respect for each other, we did what needed to be done and it was absolutely amazing. We respected our essential workers and thanked our medical teams. So maybe we all freaked out about toilet paper, but it’s pretty funny looking back at it now. But we also gave each other hope as we came together to watch musicians livestream fundraising concerts from empty bars.

I look back on this week now and I am amazed at what a blessing it was. Yes, there was absolutely terror and real fear as the entire world fall fell apart in a matter of days, but there was also an increased sense of community as we heard the phrase “I am so grateful to live in Vermont” over and over again. I am truly grateful to live in Vermont.  I am so grateful to be part of this community and to reside in this beautiful state. It has been an honor sharing this experience with you.

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