Before the Year Was Over

. 9 min read . Written by Kuba Vitek
Before the Year Was Over

we made it home.

As my mum noted the other day: “There’s absolutely no one in this world who remained untouched by this bullshit covid storyline...Except for your grandma.” Our grandma has been in a voluntary self-isolation for the past 16 years, rarely ditching her nightgown or moving from in front of TV, so she met this lockdown year totally ready.

So unless you’re my gran, the chances are you too got stuck somewhere you did not care much about getting stuck at - be it a place, be it the context, a way of life, this world. For us it’s France, David’s hometown and a life he left behind for reasons he is now painfully reminded of on a daily basis.

But before the year was through, we made it back to home which we have found with my parents and our friends in Czech Republic. The last..and I’d say also most challenging.. trick we pulled in 2020. But we’re here. Managed to keep it a surprise until the very last second, much to my mum’s dismay. She’s a Virgo through & through so anything that’s spontaneous in her life must be planned two years prior - no jokes. So we took off in a truly clandestine fashion, informing only two of our best friends about our plan to visit. I knew my mum would not approve, but we kept it under wraps purely so that there’s just a handful of people disappointed should some complications (like a positive PCR, a cancelled flight or a new lockdown in France etc.) come in the way, rather than due to some twisted sense of ‘I’ll point at and shit all over your comfort zones & boundaries’, which admittedly is something all of us enjoy submitting our family members to over the festive period…

It’s the time of the year after all when suicide rates sky rocket because if you spend it alone, you don’t want to live & if you spend it with your family, same feelings arise. No humans can win at Christmas. Just Capitalism.

I haven’t been home for Christmas in 11 years. I know, I know… But what better year for breaking patterns than 2020. So, before the year was over, we broke several stinky familial patterns. We allowed the hazmat people to stick their swabs deep (so very deep!) into our sinuses (NEGATIVE yay!), endured a horrific car-share Poitiers to Nantes, slept at our friend Clement’s sofa in Nantes, flew Nantes-Prague the next day, did another horrific middle-of-the-night 3hrs car-share from Prague to Blansko with a former prison guard Ivan, who wouldn’t shut up & admitted half-way through that he doesn’t believe in energy drinks, so instead he helps himself to stay awake on these long-distance drives by taking pervitin. Our friend...actually scrap that..our chosen family Xmas fairy Dasha had her bed ready for us at hers - we arrived so late, both my parents would be out like candles, mainly with some help from my mum’s good friend Neurol, impossible to wake up (trust me, I have some deeply traumatic experience with that, coming late from parties I was not suppose to attend, realizing I forgot my keyes and trying to wake my parents up at 3am), and we were facing a real possibility of freezing on their doorstep during the night, which yes, would make for a very different type of Christmas morning surprise.

In Czech, 24th December is the one and only proper Christmas day that concludes with a Christmas dinner, gifts opening and indigestion - all in one day. 25th is a non-day dedicated to tending to your sofa and hangover. So on Czech Christmas Day morning, my mum received a surprise of her lifetime and in turn we received showers of love, carbs and ethanol. We embraced the countryside fashion (so liberating!), we finally delivered our gifts from our last year’s work gig onboard the ocean liner Queen Mary 2 & held my grandma, who’s suddenly tiny like a little bird, and we had a chance to soak in a bath for the first time since May. Before the year was over, we were meant to do Christmas Zoom calls with about a hundred billion friends, but really ended up doing just a handful, and you know what, that’s perfectly okay.

I woke up on the 26th in my childhood room, next to the love of my life, hearing my parents busying themselves around the house, and something strange happened. For the first time in my life, I experienced what I can only describe as a total bliss. That rare zen master moment in between two thoughts. There was absolutely nothing on my mind: no thinking or worrying about the future, no stewing in the past. No agenda, no responsibilities, no wants, no needs, no ifs.

And that little moment of touching the divine could perhaps never happen, if we first both globally and on a personal level wouldn’t endure the year that we just had. I guess it’s true that you become more sensitive to light after a long time in darkness. Like you, dear reader (yes, I too watched too much of The Bridgerton during Xmas), I found myself trying to navigate a completely new landscape this year. For me, it was France, being locked in a glass tower with all consuming darkness spreading through the kingdom on the outside and with my speech being taken away from me (yes, the Emily in Paris cliches are annoying but true, nobody in France speak English and I don’t speak French well enough for people to bother to acknowledge my existence). Regardless all the luck I had this year - being healthy, having a place to live, having David by my side and loving friends just a video call away - the absence of that one thing I defined myself by, the one tool I use for understanding myself on the inside & for relating to the world on the outside - a spoken & written language - totally messed with my concept of Self.

And so I too explored ways of escaping the suddenly unrecognizable reality with perhaps too much of vodka & perhaps too much of Netflix.

Whilst you’d think the first successful vaccine would be a moment we all eagerly await during the Christmas of 2020, instead we all collectively waited for the Duke to finally finish INSIDE Daphne rather than on her tits.

Yes, I too opted for the ‘horned up Jane Austen’ escapism of The Bridgerton and I cannot seem to be able to shake off using the Victorian phraseology since, much to David’s despair.

It’s been a week of love, re-connections, lucky synchronicities - something I always feel is an indicator of being on the right path. Without fail, every time we visit Czech Republic, things just line up. Things just click in place. Things just flow. Things just feel right. We’re on our hero’s journey right now. We want to see the world. We want to change the world and allow the world to change us. For better.

But a part of being on a hero’s journey is not only to trade familiar for unknowable, not just slaying the dragons and claiming the crown. An important part of a hero's journey into the the homecoming. Returning changed. Returning a better man. Returning a king.

More and more we are accepting the signs...Czech might be the final destination one day for us.

31st December. Coming back to France and David’s hometown, where we’re based for now, after a week with my family in Czech, had put a final perspective not only on the events of the past few weeks, but on our developmental journey through 2020 on the whole. I’ll keep the details for my poor future therapist, but after a week of love with my family, we experienced a day of terror from the hands of David’s family. Before leaving, we have scrubbed the place stupid, as this flat is being sold and there might be some flat viewings at any point. In our absence, my mother and father in law, came to inspect David’s grandparents flat, where we stay whilst stuck here in France, went through our cupboards and wardrobes, pulled all the things they hated out (like un-recycled alcohol bottles, David’s well hidden ashtray, the food we left in the freezer, the little plate I use for candles that had wax left on it) to display them on a table as a proof of our disrespect to David’s grandparents, and made us - men in their thirties - to stand around the table whilst screaming and humiliating us on the level I always thought was only possible & previously only seen in films.

On our way back, David told me he received so much more love & care from my family than he ever felt from his own. Although intended as a compliment, it just broke my heart. But the trauma of this screaming match (well, not a match as to David’s credit, the only screaming came from his mum & it rung so loud and she spoke so fast, I could not really understand much of what’s been said), this stark contrast of two polar opposites of what ‘coming home’ can look like, injected some perspective and sense into this whole situation.

This is all so symbolic and the timing is so uncanny (the last day of this shitty year and the first minutes of being back from Czech), I myself would find it a lazy script writing if our life was a TV show. And of course, this is not about anything that can be found in your grownup son’s cupboards. This is just a catalyst for a pressure that’s been building up (and definitely deeply felt!) in the past seven months we’ve been in France, and on a larger scale ever since David’s coming out 13 years ago. But today, something snapped. I think it was David’s final straw. I see him. And I know him. In some way, I AM him. I’ve seen a sense of calm & peace possessing his body. In a situation like this we subconsciously lower our head, hunch our back and shoulders, clench our fists and teeth perhaps. I’ve seen him growing taller, more upright. It sounds so stupid, but I’ve seen his body physicaly responding to an invisible weight finally lifting off his shoulder. Another broken pattern of behaviour, of a family dynamic that must stay in the past and is not permitted to seep into 2021.

But yes. There are far darker paradigm shifts in place out there. One more for the 2020 shitlist...Before the year was over, our friend Emma from New Zealand, a beacon of uncomplicated love & laughter, who worked with us on Queen Mary 2 (trust me - an experience so traumatic at times, that brings people very close together and forever), suffered a head-on collision car crash, broken legs, broken spine, collapsed lungs, coma. If you’re reading this, please join all of us who know and love her in sending their positive energy across the world. Starting 2021, a great rebirth is unfolding for everyone. What triggers this completely new paradigm for us individually is unknowable, but it rarely will be pleasant. We know very well that every big expansion must be following a big contraction. We are rarely ready for the pain of the contraction though.

Before the year was over, the unprecedented (there’s your favourite word of the year) astrological event - The Great Conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter in Aquarius ended a 200years cycle of capricornian materialism & pushed us into freedom & innovation-loving Age of Aquarius. And I cannot help but wonder...if there’s a big societal rebirth waiting to happen during the next 20 years, isn’t it only natural that it must be preceded by death? After all, one cannot exist without the other.

So before the year was over, you most likely had to face some raw & merciless developments designed for you to decide WHO’S HAND YOU WANT TO BE HOLDING, as we collectively walk into these changes, into a new year, a new paradigm, a new way of being in the world, which if I know something about Aquarius - will for sure feel friendlier to us hippies, all the beautiful creatures pushed until now to the margins of society, that so heavily relied on an endless cycle of producing & consuming, whilst also holding onto some profound inequalities, separateness disguised as individualism, and institutionalised homophobia, racism and phallocracy, that it eventually devoured itself. It happened before. Death that must precede Rebirth.