And December

Jolie Loeb and family in December

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.

Holding hands in December

Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

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.

Author Bio:

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.

46 Comments

  1. That is a lovely reminder Jolie that there is light at the end of this tunnel. Because humanity has shown us its worst this year, but also its best.

    • Well said. Now on to bigger and brighter things! ‘May every year be better than the last’ shouldn’t be a high bar to overcome next year.

  2. I love the forwards. You have me in tears here as usual and that’s ok. I’m so grateful for everything in my life and it is good to get reminders about how other people struggle and survive waaaayyy worse things than what I’m going through. People may not agree what I’m saying here, but I have loved pretty much loved every minute of the quarantine. I can quarantine for another year. Keep the stories coming, Jolie!

    • Oh Victoria you make me laugh!! Reminds me of my friend Vivian who once gave me a journal that said “It’s way too peopley out there.” This experience has had a VASTLY different effect on the extroverts and introverts amongst us. The ambiverts seem to be holding the frame the best. Keep doing you, my friend. I miss you. And thanks so much for sharing.

  3. What we have endured doesn’t hold a small candle to this self imposed isolation we now experience. I have been cautious and try to use good judgment but never have I felt less than safe. My close family celebrates every holiday and birthday. Our Thanksgiving was gorgeous, delicious and most important memorable. Now we’re talking about coming birthdays as well as Chanukah Latke recipes. Traditional or Zuchini with Gruyere? In this uncommon dark time we have not forgotten to light every candle we can . Your article Doe made all this come to mind.

  4. Beautiful, Jolie! I love your writing and all the stories you shared. I’m curious what stories we will all be sharing from this year. All so different. Some wonderful and some tragic and a million in between. And Cody- he has made this quarantine so much more tolerable. He’s the best! Keep sharing your truths with us all.

  5. Once again you nail it, Jolie! Thank you for sharing these stories. They need to be heard by all. Lots of love to you and yours. BTW I went to Bacara 2 weekends ago by myself and I thought of you and your travels. It was beyond lovely. Highly recommend it! Miss you!!!

  6. We are all writing our own stories now. Decades from now, there will be books examining “The 2020 Experience” and games with “True or False, bleach cures COVID” questions. I watched Dangerous Beauty the other night and couldn’t help comparing the Plague. Somehow life continues to repeat itself. Lastly, what’s wrong with BOGO? It’s win-win!

  7. Your words paint such a vivid picture. Thank you for sharing your stories and experiences. It always makes my day brighter!

  8. What an absolutely beautiful essay! I so love that story about Tony Blinken. I think we all vacillate between depression and optimism, and your writing helps tip the scales toward the positive!

  9. I read the story about the Holocaust survivor to Ana. So powerful, and such a good message in these despicable times. Thank you, as always, for your real and grounded perspective.

  10. Thank you for the original expression in a time when there’s a bombardment of all things year’s-end. What will your December 2021 retrospective look like? One can only guess!

  11. Jolie, thank you for reminding us there is so much good and positivity that continues to go on around us even in the darkest moments.

  12. Jolie,
    I had just finished reading the Washington Post article about the Jewish doc & the tatted Covid patient and then I read your article.
    Like you and so many others I am struggling to find the ray of light in this dark time. You always seem to find a lyrical way to address the dichotomy of the present pain and path forward.
    I am struck by your alliteration:
    “Our pain has purpose “ ;
    “Learning isn’t linear .“
    We are all a mess in one way or another but you, dear, are a beautiful mess. Thanks for letting us in on your personal journeys.

  13. Jolie, This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing these journeys, and yours, with us. This year has shown us that indeed we are all more connected, and dependent on one another, than we realize. Your writing is a gift. You deserve a Peloton.

  14. Beautiful piece summing up a truly unbelievable year! In the end, it held many unexpected blessings. Meeting Cody Rigsby being one of them for me for sure. Looking forward to the light that 2021 will hold for all of us! Happy ALMOST end of 2020!!!!!

  15. Omg-I love this. I love Cody! What is the class-is it a ballet class???? Everyone is struggling, covid doesn’t discriminate-but we can make the best of it. It forces us into a new reality.

  16. 2020…. a year that is teaching us a collective lesson: one of loss, hope and transformation. I appreciate your perspective and couldn’t agree mire growth is always jagged and faulty…. one thing 2020 taught me : growth isn’t for the faint of heart.💖

    I too am grateful for Samuel Pisar, for Ellington, and for those pharma-geniuses who are the reason we will all eventually get a vaccine (so nice to hear pharma called out in a positive light 😊). Mostly I am grateful for a friend like you. ❤️

  17. You have such an amazing way of expressing & sharing thoughts and feelings that are SO relatable! I hang on your every word and feel inspired by your truth and candidness. I loved your stories. They really resonate with me & give such perspective, especially the Holocaust survivor story. Wow. Thank you for continuing to share your feelings & your journey over the past year. You always brighten my day. Miss seeing your smiling face in person!

  18. Yes! So many beautiful stories about the human spirit have come out of this year. And we were still enough to listen and see them!

  19. I’ve read this one a few times now and love it every time. Living one’s truth is really hard, but seeing the stories that come out of doing just that is really quite inspiring, especially now.

  20. Another wonderful article from Jolie, and one that we can really use now. Aside from everything else, it totally catches the mood and fits the bill for the rollercoaster that is 2020! Thanks for this!

  21. What a beautiful and heartfelt ode to this year like no other. Thank you Jolie for the perspective we all need right now – it’s easy to lose it and it’s the key to making meaning and finding growth. Thank you!!

  22. Such a gorgeous and heartfelt reminder of perspective, of the light we have the potential to find beneath the cracks in the pavement and the wooden slats of an abandoned barn. Thank you – keep the forwards (and the writing) coming!

  23. I am thankful for you and this story, Jolie. Thanks so much for sharing. I too receive so many “forwards” from my 90-year-old dad, and too often don’t find time to read them (and fear of virtual viruses!) – your story provides the grounding I need to slow down, read and reflect. Appreciations, and here’s to a new and better year (cheers)!

  24. Oh Jolie. Thanks so much for always including me. Though I am eager to welcome 2021, I am especially grateful for all my blessings and gifts this year which include you and your lovely musings. Cheers, Love!

  25. My only complaint is that I didn’t get to hear this live….but this will do….A simple reminder that were never going back to normal but instead moving forward to hopefully a better future.

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