This year (thus far)

What a year, huh?

The first ten-ish months of 2020 have simultaneously flown and dragged by. Tiger King-era quarantine feels like another lifetime ago, but so does September. The theme has been personal progress amidst environmental inconvenience – which I’m sure isn’t unfamiliar.

My biggest point of pride this year has been in cooperation with American Field – we launched a first-of-its-kind digital events platform in April, hybridizing the feel of the physical pop-up events we’ve held for the last ten years with a built-from-scratch online system, inspired by (at that time) newly-cancelled festivals like Coachella or SXSW. Over 70 brands participated across four digital events – including the likes of Topo Designs, New Balance, and Oak and Eden – as well as personal favorites CMBD, HFA Goods, Taylor Stitch, and the unforgettable I Love My Nighty. Recorded live streams from those events can be watched on-demand on the AF site.

March to May was mostly head-down on the computer, with infrequent breaks to walk around the reservoir. Feels unfamiliar, now.

Also on the digital front, I teamed up with the US Denim Hangs community to put together a digital streaming event of black voices in the denim community and industry in June. It was, for lack of better words, a powerful night – bringing perspectives together with actionable take-aways to make our little niche a better place. You can check out the stream here.

At home, Elaine and I made the what-felt-like-heartbreaking decision mid-summer to not carry out our plans to move to Denver. Combination changes of heart, circumstance, and the general state of the world directed us to keep our roots where they’re growing for the time being – which lead us to Letty. We adopted a twelve-week-old boxer/hound mix in August. Above all other things I am – partner, son, brother, denim dude, ball of mass – I am her dog dad.

The surprise blessings we’ve found in deciding to stay local have gratified the decision to do the right thing. What felt like a pressing need to experience living in another corner of the world has found peace – in the realization that all my spare time and money to travel would be spent coming home to fulfill obligations, and in re-finding love of the hills in the fall (but mostly, the pup asleep at my feet after a rigorous thirty minutes of fetch this morning). Home, is, as it should be – good.

Letty, five or so minutes after having her handed to us off the van from Arkansas. In a Connecticut Wendy’s parking lot, as one would expect. She’s grown to a point where her tongue is the right size for her body now. She just pissed in her bed, as I write this.

Home as we now know it was, also, a metric fuck-ton of work. Opportunity knocked and knocked hard when we decided to stay put, and we ended up moving into the basement apartment of Elaine’s sister and brother-in-law in Conway, MA. Now fifteen minutes from the city I was born in, my landmark for explaining where in the woods we are has shifted from the rainbow crosswalks of sometimes-iconic Northampton to something along the lines of “we’re basically in Downstate Vermont”.

We were lucky to walk into a rental situation where we had the green light to make it ours – so we took it and ran with it. What was once a bedside pipe-dream painted in swatches from “fun trips” to Home Depot quickly turned into a carpeted warzone where no one was really sure on what “Southwest-inspired” actually meant. With our own hands we laid new floors, overhauled the walls, designed and installed our own fixtures – light work for the competent but new experience for the laptop warrior. The late nights swinging the backside of a hammer to rip up carpet (hoping I didn’t kneecap myself with every swing) were among the most satisfying moments of this horse shit year.

A home office, of sorts, and a slightly bigger dog.

So, life is good. I do miss the road, I miss friends, I miss the train from New Haven to New York. These things will come back in time. I have not thrown my last piece of pizza across a dive bar, I have not sang my final reprise at college karaoke. Those days will return.

I write this half-assed Christmas card on Halloween, with the first snow melting outside and a monumental election less than a week out. Who knows the state of the world when and if this meets eyes outside of my own – we’re staring down the barrel of what will likely be a different landscape, soon, regardless of the outcome. I feel grateful and lucky to have a happy, warm home, and have had the time to make it as such.

Be well.

Fitz

This got real Christmas Card-y real quick.

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