When I was in my senior year in college, I booked a ticket on the Amtrak Empire Builder to visit my then-boyfriend (now husband) in his hometown of Milwaukee. My train was leaving Minneapolis the day after Christmas, and we planned to spend New Year’s Eve together.
I arrived at the train station at 6 a.m. — ridiculously early for a college student — and waited eagerly for the train to pull in. Except, it didn’t. Due to excessive snow, it was stuck in North Dakota. “I’d be busing it,” I realized.
For context, by car, it takes about five hours to drive from Minneapolis to Milwaukee. By train, it’s six, and on a bus that makes every stop the train would, it becomes seven. This wasn’t the trip I’d signed up for, but here I was. Yes, I was frustrated, but I also was hopeful that this setback wasn’t the defining moment of the trip. Indeed, it wasn’t.
To say that the inconvenience of a snowstorm compares to the COVID-19 pandemic would be a stretch. But the emotions — anticipation, frustration and hope — I experienced that morning are similar to what I’ve cycled through daily since the beginning of this year. I’m certain you could add a few feelings of your own to that rotating list.
As we enter the holidays and the year’s end, it’s important to acknowledge that the global pandemic can amplify what is already an emotionally charged time of year. The holiday blues are real and, for those struggling with mental health issues, this time of year can be tough.
If 2021 (and Simone Biles) have given us anything, it’s greater permission to openly discuss mental health. Now is a good time to check in on your own and that of friends and family. For some, a change of scenery or a new tradition is enough to create positive space. If that’s the case for you, this issue of Journey has ideas to help do just that.
Or perhaps you or a loved one could benefit from support. Several good resources are the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Trevor Project serving LGBTQ+ youth, or the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, for those experiencing abuse in their relationship.
With the year’s end, I’m leaning hard into hope and the belief that next year will be better, just as 2021 was better than 2020. You can trust that whatever 2022 brings — whether it’s an unforeseen snowstorm or a pre-planned cruise — AAA Washington will be here to serve you.