December – here we are. All of us with all our unfinished pain. I can’t stop thinking about it, feeling it. The messy, murky, mental homelessness of it all. We’ve run out of space. It’s been a year, this 2020. The emotional calculus has overtaxed us. Another stay-at-home order. It can make the sadness feel too heavy to hold.
My dad he likes to send me forwards. He likes to send me lots of forwards. Usually I’m too slow to read them, much to his aggravation. Yesterday I happened upon one that told a story about an escapee from a Nazi slave labor camp, about 50 miles from Dachau, 1945. Convict No. B-1713. Here is the very short of it.
After marching for three straight days, Convict No. B-1713 was one of six to survive a machine gun SS attack. However, many days, (weeks?), later, in hiding, he peeked through the wooden slats of the abandoned Bavarian barn, saw a massive tank heading his direction. He saw no swastika, but a five-pointed white star on the side. He charged the tank, arms flailing. Ellington hoisted him into the hatch, into the rest of his life, which would now include, surviving the Holocaust.
He became an American citizen. A successful lawyer. His name was Samuel Pisar.
His stepson, Tony Blinken, will become America’s next Secretary of State.
I love this story.
I love this story not just for its transgenerational poetry, but for its power to pull me up from the dark depths of a pandemic plunge (simple sorrow mixed in with a little homegrown pity – my special cocktail). But the reminder, the truth! It is so easy to forget that the path to progress is rarely linear. That it is jagged and faulty and on a journey of its own. I love this story. I love that our pain has purpose, even if it’s just to be part of a communal collectivity that will always remember when.
We will always remember when.
And another friend, not my dad, she sent me an article on Cody Rigsby.
Cody is this undeniably beautiful human who has charismatically chatted his way into the Peloton masses. Here he is, this shimmying character with an encyclopaedic pop culture lexicon and opinions on maybe everything. His entertaining presence and disarming charms have caught fire with the times. He arrived, on his bike, on our screens (for me it’s an app, I don’t have the bike) and seems to be exactly what we need to meet this exact moment. It’s 2020 and Cody Rigsby, who used to take his 6’2” frame into a ballet class of twelve-year-old girls (not a lot options for gay dancers in Greensboro, North Carolina), he just might be living his best life, all while inserting whimsy and workout into ours. He pedals and he quips, and he casually speaks of being the son of a single mom, Cindy. And that he and Cindy were homeless for over three years.
That jagged and faulty journey.
I see (very) elderly couples hunched over like little shrimps, one pushing the other in the chair, holding hands.
I see a tatted-up millennial helping a centurion out of her van, taking both her bony hands in his, leading her in a little tango, before situating her on her walker.
I read about a Jewish doctor, an African American nurse, and an Asian respiratory therapist working collectively to save a Covid sufferer, covered in Nazi tattoos (another dad forward).
I see Juno now Elliot, and I listen to my teenage daughter (try to) help me understand pronouns that I want to understand but there are so many, reminding me learning isn’t linear either.
I see Angelina Friedman. Who survived the Spanish flu and Covid twice, at 102 years young.
We are going to be okay.
I’m not sure how I feel about uniting the Prince of Peloton and a surviving Holocaust descendant into one rampant conscious stream, but such is this year. It all came at us at once. What we manifest, what we metabolize, what we mould into something better than what was delivered, that’s on us. It is the challenge of the moment. Forgive me for being a bit of a mess. But a new year is upon us. January 20th is upon us. I am grateful for Samuel Pisar and I am grateful for Ellington. I am grateful for those pharma-geniuses who are the reason we will all eventually get vaccinated from this thing. I am grateful for Cody and his passion for fabulous footwear, you can wear your Payless, just keep your BOGO energy out of my class (still laughing). And I am grateful for you, your mess, your journey, whatever part you’re in, so long as it is your truth.
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.