The Best Worst Year

The Sikh gentleman behind the counter kisses the lottery ticket before he hands it to me. For luck. I worry silently behind my mask about germs, but I am already committed.

Once when I’d come in to get my daily dose of diet soda, he’d asked me how much I make an hour. At first I thought I hadn’t heard him, because, being from the south, one simply does not ask a stranger how much money they make. After I got over my shock, having inwardly collapsed onto an imaginary chaise lounge, fanning away the vapors, I answered him. I found myself awkwardly apologizing and telling him how grateful I am to be gainfully employed when so many people are struggling.

Because he is literally the only person I’ve spoken to in real life in months, I don’t hold his impertinent question against him. I even forgive him for charging me full price for my refill.

“Goodbye, my friend.” He says as I leave, from behind a gold bandana that matches his gold turban.

I slip the lottery ticket into my wallet and walk back home so I can login and start my work day.

I only ever buy lottery tickets when work is especially stressful. I took statistics in college. I know that I’m more likely to be struck by lightning than to win big. I don’t expect to win. But for $2, I can spend about 24 hours imagining that my life could be a dream.

Not that my life is all that bad. Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve lost 10 pounds. I’m running more, and snacking less. My workout from home seems to yield the same results I was achieving at the gym. I’m slowly fixing up my place. The biggest problem in my life is trying to decide whether to hire an interior designer to remodel my kitchen, or to attempt to coordinate it all myself.

I love being able to work from home. To sit in my room, with warm lighting instead of glaring, overhead fluorescents. To shuffle around in slippers. I love spending weekends watching bad TV, playing video games, and listening to the music I loved as a teenager. I discovered there is such a thing as single-player boardgames.

I love watching movies curled up in a blanket in my living room.

I love getting takeout and eating by myself.

I love working in sweatpants.

I love having a ready, and totally valid excuse to not have to see people.

As a completely anti-social introvert, my personality type has probably been among the best suited to deal with a global pandemic that requires the bulk of society to isolate itself.

Now I live in fear that with the vaccine, life will revert to the way it was. That I’ll have to go back into the office. That I’ll be obligated to be social. To sit in crowded bars with too loud music, struggling to hear inane conversations that I don’t actually care about.

I totally want companies to thrive, and the service industry to rebound, and the people who have lost their livelihood to be able to regain it. I want people to be able to go to bars, and concerts, and festivals again. But…part of me, let’s face it, a big part, has found this year to be the best year of my life. And I selfishly don’t want it to end.

So I find myself sometimes picking up a lottery ticket. Not with dreams of Scrooge McDucking into a vault of gold coins, but with the vaguest of hopes that I could live a life of comfortable leisure, isolated in pajamas in my living room forever.