22 Jan 2020: TWELVE HISTORIC MONTHS CAPTURED ON FILM
Disclaimer: I am a white, upper-middle class, cisgender, and non-disabled woman. I would like to acknowledge that my experience discussed in this article is impacted by my privilege and experiences that are personal and specific to me. The anecdotes, stories and insights shared throughout this piece are also informed by each contributors’ personal identity and degree of privilege.
I know you’re probably just as tired of talking about 2020 as I am, but it’s true, it was a year like no other. 2020 will always be remembered alongside years when protests broke-out, pandemics subsided, and deep generational fissures burst into the open. This was a year so pivotal that I found myself thinking, on several occasions, how the headlines on my Twitter feed and stories I saw on the news would one day be written in history books.
We likely shared many similar hobbies this year. I downloaded TikTok, made whipped coffee, tried Chloe Ting, went on lots of walks, attended Zoom parties, made birthday videos, missed a virtual deadline, laughed, cried, fought, and weirdly now, despite all we’ve lost, I’ve reminisced fondly at all I gained.
While 2020 will be remembered and studied for its extraordinary challenges, it also brought pockets of happiness that give me hope moving into the new year.
I took this photo in Edinburgh, Scotland, while on exchange to the University of Edinburgh. Starting 2020 in a new city, at a new school, across the world was a crazy feeling. I had never lived outside of Canada and I flew into Scotland knowing no one. However, even though I left the city earlier than expected, due to COVID-19, I left with an entire community I made in just mere months. Strange streets became familiar, and I started to become a regular in coffee spots perfect for studying. In the three months I was there I went on countless trips to various countries, made friends who became family, and made memories that will stay with me forever. This picture reminds me of how I moved across the world and made a foreign city home. Although 2020 has not been the year I expected, I think that like exchange it has forced growth and taught me difficult lessons. This photo reminds me that progress is impossible without change and that change can bring about beautiful results. It makes me hopeful that as 2020 was a year of immense change, 2021 will be a year of progress and beauty.
This is one of the happiest memories I have from February 2020. One of my childhood best friends and I travelled to Milan, Italy where we spent four beautiful days exploring the city. This photograph was taken on the last day of our trip when we went to visit Lake Como and Varenna in Lombardy, a few days before Italy went into lockdown. Right after this picture was taken things in the world started changing so quickly and two and a half weeks later I was on a flight home, leaving behind an experience that I had been waiting for months. Looking back on this makes me feel happy and grateful because it is not everyday that you get to travel the world with your best friend. I am reminded of the beautiful moments in life, despite the darkness of these times. This day was filled with laughter, happiness and pure joy, uninterrupted by anything beyond the beautiful and quaint life in Lombardy. This day and memory reminds me of how important it is to enjoy every minute of life, being with and doing the things that you love. I am very hopeful that in the future I will be able to continue having more life changing experiences and adventures like we did this day. But for now, the only thing I am looking forward to is being able to hug my friends like I am in this photo.
This picture was taken on the weekend before St. Pats, the day after all classes were cancelled and just before the lockdown was imposed in Ontario. This is one of the last photos taken of the philosophy girls in my house. The first two months of 2020 tested my mental health in some crazy ways I wasn’t expecting thanks to a fun little health crisis and the thing I’m most grateful for is having a rock solid support system. Three days after this photo was taken, we all said some very tearful goodbyes as we parted ways for an indefinite period of time. While we still haven’t had the time in person together we want due to distance and the lockdown, this picture reminds me that during and after the pandemic, I’m incredibly lucky to have two badass women by my side.
While the past 10 months have been different than many of us had expected, 2020 allocated me the ability to spend time with my friends and family throughout the summer, something I haven’t done since I was 15 years old. Being my first summer at home and away from camp, I was anxious to miss out on the significant time I typically spent outdoors between June – August. This summer, although different than years past, granted me far more cottage visits than I could have hoped, far more creative, distanced celebrations for birthdays and family milestones, and far more time surrounded by those I love. This picture encapsulates the good that this summer brought, as although I was met with challenges, I was able to face the unexpected with the confidence that I could cope, adapt and enjoy the unfamiliar due to the support of those closest to me.
Although not the most artistic, aesthetic or thought-provoking film photo you may have seen, it is special to me all the same. When I look at this photo, I am reminded to savour the moments you have and memories you create with the important people in your life. 2020 brought a multitude of new experiences, both positive and negative. I never imagined myself being separated from my friends for such a long period of time, as we are more often than not all attached at the hip. Being able to see my life partners after such a long time apart was a moment I will never forget. COVID-19 took so much from so many. Looking at this photo reminds me of all that I have, and all that the future holds, all of which I will experience with my best friends.
My friends and I typically spend May to August in Huntsville living out our favourite part of the year – summer camp. In 2019, I was lucky enough to lead a 15 day canoe-trip alongside one of my best friends, Sarah. Knowing that the odds were working against us, it seemed nearly impossible to have a summer that could live up to last year, and while we didn’t get four months at camp – or 15 days in a canoe – we did manage to get four. We planned a canoe trip in Algonquin Park on lakes we’d been tripping since our first years at camp. I’ll never forget driving down that winding dirt road, knowing my best friends were waiting for me at the end. I barely remembered to put the car in park before greeting everyone with nothing but excitement – finally feeling back in my element. This picture takes me back to that feeling of sheer joy – and I think you can see it in our faces. My friends have helped me in unimaginable ways throughout this challenging year, and although we’ve already resorted back to Zoom calls, I know that we’ll always be there for eachother no matter the distance. While it’s cheesy, it’s true, and together we’ll overcome whatever new challenges 2021 might bring.
This was taken during July 2020, a very uncertain time for most of us. I couldn’t go back home to Jordan, travel was not only restricted, but almost completely out of the question for some circumstances. However, I had the absolute privilege to isolate with my closest friend and her family in Kingston, where I got to wake up to this view every single day for three months straight. This moment will truly be so special to me in years to come because it reminds me just how lucky I am to not only have a second family in Kingston, but have the privilege to feel safe as an international student in a place that is so foreign to me. This moment will always be a reminder to be kind, empathetic, and considerate to others for the years to come, just as my friend and her family were to me during such a scary time.
This photo sums up my quarantine summer pretty well. As soon as Covid hit in March, my family and I headed up to our cottage where we remained for a lot longer than we anticipated. I spent months on end reading books by the water, something I hadn’t had the time to do in years. I wanted to share it because it brings me some peace of mind when I think about all the days I had like this, toes in the water, face buried in a book. I will always remember this summer and cherish the novels I devoured and the distraction that they were from this year, these books truly helped me cope. This photo also makes me hopeful that I will have another calm summer ahead in 2021.
This photo was taken in late September 2020 at the Brass. It reminds me of all the memories and crazy experiences that Queen’s bars and clubs have given myself and many others. Of course, this year was a little bit different, but I learned that happiness and fun does not always have to come from big crowds. This past Fall semester was where I learned how important my friendships are and how they should never be taken for granted. It can be easy to get caught up in partying or an extended social life but at the end of the day the ones that mean the most are the ones that have been there with you through it all. And this photo of my housemates reminds me of that: Tara, always teaches me how to laugh and be resilient, no matter how difficult or challenging a situation she or I might be facing. Britt, is one of my favourite storytellers, after many of our conversations I have left feeling inspired or intrigued to learn or research something new. Hannah, brings such light in my life, though her genuine compassion for others. And Molly finds a way to make a witty or clever comment that will always leave us laughing or smiling. This photo summarizes the incredible impact these four women have had on my undergraduate experience but more specifically, on my 2020 year.
This photo marks the stay-at-home Halloween my housemates and I had at our Kingston house. It reminds me of the song “Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake)” by Dominic Fike which my housemate Alexa (pictured on the right) and I (left) played on repeat throughout the fall. I could always hear it being blasted from her room across the hall from me, and sometimes she’d knock on my door with it playing and we’d take a dance study break to blow off some steam and get moving. And when the song ended, right back to online school work. This picture is a reminder that even during the isolating times we faced, we still found ways to have fun and found motivation to keep going. This gives me a lot of hope for 2021… and excitement for new music from Dominic Fike.
Last semester looked a little bit different at 295 Willy. Normally our house is chaotic – filled with friends and animals – but quarantine changed things. By November, we were running out of activities, and logically, we turned to tie-dyeing matching sweatsuits in our bathtub. (Apologies to our landlord, because the bathtub remains bright blue!) This photograph reminds me how grateful I am to have spent my final year at Queen’s with such wonderfully supportive and caring people.
Although this looks like a regular picture with friends, this photo has a lot of significance to me. I think everyone can agree 2020 was hard and different than any year we could’ve imagined. This photo was taken in December of 2020 in Kingston. The people in this photo represent individuals who are not only great friends and housemates, but people who have pushed me to overcome a lot of obstacles and understand that I am good enough. School is something that always tends to fill me with anxiety whether it be to achieve high grades or simply managing stress associated with a heavy workload. The girls in the photo are my best friends who I know will talk me out of any crazy thoughts and are always more than willing to deal with a lot of tears. This photo reminds me of 2020 because something about the year made me feel closer to them. This photo reminds me that, years will come and go, good or bad, yet by surrounding yourself with people who make you happy and support you, we can always overcome any challenge.
In 2020, a year where all aspects of life seemed to change, I hope that these photographs can offer comfort and perspective as to what is important and stagnant moving into this new year. While no one can escape the history of 2020, and perhaps you’d rather never hear those four syllables ever again, this year gave us archival images from an unforgettable year.
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: Erin Macintosh