“The underwhelming first glimpse of the Norway spruce seemed a metaphor for 2020’s troubles. But perhaps the tree just needs a little time to relax.”
— New York Times, 11/18/20
So apparently I’ve gone viral. Don’t worry; you don’t have to tiptoe around my feelings. I’ve seen all the memes, the tweets, and the articles saying I’m “the perfect metaphor for 2020.” And I get it. My branches are all scraggly and sparse, and I’m not exactly looking my best. But I would like to make a small correction to my headline. Yes, I’m sort of a metaphor for 2020, but really, I think it’s more accurate to say that I’m a metaphor for you.
Think about it. I’ve been out in the middle of nowhere, sheltering in place for about 75 years or so, which feels about as long as the past 8 months have felt for you humans (tree time is kind of like dog years, except you’re the dog.) My friends and family have stayed at least 6 feet away from me because of our root systems and branch lengths and other tree stuff. Most days, I’m either entirely nude or wearing something comfy like a blanket of fresh snow or a coat of soft morning dew. I technically only “shower” when it rains. And yes, occasionally, some small vermin will crawl across my body, or a bird will make a nest in my hair, and at this point, it honestly doesn’t even bother me anymore.
Now, just imagine, after finally getting used to this isolated version of life, you’re plucked out of your awkward, lonely existence and are forced to make a harrowing, two-day New York commute back to your wildly distracting open-plan office in Rockefeller Center Plaza. And not only that, now you’re expected to try and match society’s unrealistic beauty standards by getting all decked out in ornaments and sparkly shit and putting on an itchy skirt that makes everyone who passes by blatantly stare at you. Plus, instead of just calmly absorbing sunlight from the comfort of your home, your only decent lunch option is an overpriced chopped salad or cup of trendy bone broth.
But worst of all, your boss is here. You remember him, right? That fat old white man who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake? What a micro-managing prick. Good luck sneaking in that midday nap like you did when you were working from home. You know, the ones where you’d startle awake at 2:47 pm on a Tuesday, mere seconds before your Zoom meeting, with sleep lines still visibly etched across your face, where you’d stare icily into your computer camera, daring anyone to say something. Specifically Brenda. Say something about my face, Brenda. You know you want to, you judgemental bitch.
Say goodbye to all that now. You can’t take naps at work. Where would you even take a nap in such an uncomfortable space? In a bathroom stall? In your car? Even if you tried to sneak into one of those soothing lactation rooms we all assume are in every office in California, you’d probably still get caught. Probably by Brenda, that brown-nosing, nightmare succubus.
So yeah, that’s where I’m at. That’s why so many branches have fallen off of me and why there are all these gaping holes in certain places on my body. But honestly, would you rather I be one of those trees that was able to somehow focus on bettering themselves during this time? Wouldn’t it be way more irritating if I showed up all jacked-up and fit, and also fluent in Portuguese? Nah, fuck that guy/Norweigian Spruce tree.
I guess what I’m saying is, yes, I understand I look weird, but things are weird right now, and they’ll continue to be weird for a while. And we all know that eventually our hair will grow back, and we’ll remember social norms like how to make non-virtual eye contact without screaming. So, in the meantime, why not give each other a break on our appearance and sanity, and just try to have a Merry Christmas? And yes, I realize it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but fuck it, it’s 2020.