Sure, it’s hard being the most reviled year in recent history, but what about being the year that follows that year?
What does it feel like to be the raison d’être of everyone who can’t wait to see 2020 gone? LBV sat down with 2021 for an exclusive interview to talk about the pressures of being not just a new year, but that new year. What they say may surprise you.
It’s a cool, breezy winter day in Florida—the only time of year when the weather doesn’t make you feel like you’re living in a large man’s sweaty armpit. When I arrive at the outdoor café (safety first!), sunlight bounces off the water of the Intracoastal, and palm trees sway on the opposite bank, as a boat pulls up to dock on the other side of the bar. 2021 is already waiting for me at a table, looking effortlessly chic in an LBV Pre-Spring 21 suit—a camo jacket with signature strong shoulders and the cutest pair of camo high waisted shorts, just right for this breezy Florida day—there’s no doubt they mean business. Their hair is swept off their face by the wind and their complexion glows in a way that makes me think now, that’s how you do no-makeup makeup. As I sit down, 2021 discreetly nods at a server passing by, tilting their head at their glass of sparkling rose, which will be finished with one more sip. Before I ask a question, they’re already answering one.
2021: I might as well admit it, I drank my wine cellar dry in 2020. Wine: it’s not just for dinner anymore. It’s for early lunch! Will you join me in a glass?
LBV: I’ll have what 2021’s having!
We share a tentative laugh.
2021: Before we start, my pronouns are they/them.
LBV: Hey—who’s interviewing whom here?
We laugh again.
LBV: Have you always gone by they/them?
2021: Well, I am 2021, and let’s face it, I’m all about fluidity.
LBV: How would you define your fluidity?
2021: I have to be fluid in every aspect of my existence. I’m under so much pressure. How naive can one year get? I just wanted to be 2021…just another year…but since 2020 opened a box of trouble Pandora would’ve been jealous of, I’m expected to be the answer to everyone’s hopes and dreams. It’s a lot to deal with. So, I really need to let it roll off my back and roll with the punches. I need to be the water rolling over the rocks. Basically, you can’t please everyone.
LBV: Truer words…
Our server sets down our drinks, and we clink glasses.
2021: We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet!
2021 looks toward the water, catching the eye of a year I don’t recognize and waving, then leaning in conspiratorially.
2021: 1976—The Bicentennial. Can you imagine getting that freaking lucky? I would kill to be 1976. Kill. Which, if you think about it, is literally what they did 200 years prior—that’s what all the hoopla was about.
1967 floats by, trailing a hand over 2021’s shoulders and blowing me a kiss, flowers falling in their wake as they leave.
2021: Summer of Love…what a phony. Oh well—compare, despair.
LBV: Did you have any idea it would be this stressful to be 2021?
2021: Look, 2017 was cocky. Always bragging, always, I’m the greatest! I’m going to change everything! Youth wasted on the young, and all that. But 2017 ended up having to grow up fast. A divisive president, The Women’s March, the #MeToo movement, Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial—no rest for the overconfident. 2017 couldn’t catch a break!
LBV: Unless it was breaking news!
Yet more laughs.
LBV: But there were bright spots, too.
2021: Wonder Woman!
LBV: The eclipse.
They mime a cigar, doing their best Groucho Marx.
2021: Talk about your bright spots.
LBV: But the question remains, did you see 2017, 2018, and 2019 as harbingers of things to come?
2021: Truthfully? You never really know. 2018, 2019—who can remember? It felt like I was a detective, waiting for the clue that would break the case wide open, so I could put the bad guys away. But instead, time just dragged on and on, every year becoming another cold case. There was no solution. Was the first photograph of a black hole something to be celebrated, or was it a warning? It’s beautiful, but nothing can escape it, not even light. It’s all about perspective at the end of the day.
LBV: And how about 2018 and 2109? Did they feel the kind of pressure you’re talking about?
2021: Well, I can’t speak for them. But—oh Hell—they’re in love. What do they care?
LBV: You read it here first!
2021: Oh, come on, you’ve seen the paparazzi honeymoon pics from Eleuthera. Everything looks rosier on a pink sand beach!
LBV: Speaking of love, I’ve heard you and 2020 are close.
2021: Hashtag truth. But we’re just great friends. You really get close being consecutive years, you know?
LBV: How’s 2020 doing?
2021: Well, as you might imagine, 2020 feels very attacked. 2020 is a very private year. They didn’t want the spotlight—they just wanted Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Put flowers in your hair! Go swimming! Wear plaid. Throw a snowball at a stranger, make a friend. You have to understand, we’re just YEARS. We’re just random units of time. You guys created us, and it’s you guys who imbue us with all this meaning and judgement—this was a good one, that was a bad one. But you’re the ones who fill us up with experiences. It’s not our fault. Let’s put the responsibility where it really lies.
LBV: Well. Tell us how you really feel!
Laughing and laughing and laughing.
LBV: So, we’ve got fluidity and responsibility—but things always come—
We both say it at the same time, of course: In threes!
2021: I can’t predict the future because I’m time itself, the pure definition of being in the moment. I don’t even know if the check will come, but I know who’s paying!
2021: Allow me to quote one of my favorite Queens—Queen Latifah -- when I say, U-N-I-T-Y, U-N-I-T-Y it’s a unity. I think that’s the sentiment for right now, and not just because right now is the only place I can be. Human beings really need to come together. And yes, there’s a whole big universe out there. I could talk try to explain the Quarktonic Time System in the 11th Galaxy, but I’m your delineation of time. I belong to you, and I want us all to do better. Plus, I came to Florida to talk to you, so you know I’m for real. At any moment I could become a #floridayear headline. There’s a Black woman in the White House. There’s a vaccine. There are 13 seasons of Ink Master on TV, which is nine to ten too many, but you can watch them all!
Suddenly 2021 is singing.
2021: There’s a place for us, a time and place for us…
Turns out 2021 has a great singing voice.
LBV: After everything, you sound hopeful.
2021: The human spirit, it responds to fireworks. You guys are always hopeful in a new year. You can’t help yourselves. So, get your heads out of your asses. And live with fluidity, responsibility, and unity.
LBV: Truly words to live by.
2021: What other choice is there?
LBV: As you would say, “hashtag truth.” Any last piece of advice you can leave our readers with?
2021: For your readers? Absolutely. Keep your charcuterie close, your cheese closer, and a really great bottle of wine closer still.
And with those sage words for and from a new year, the setting sun paints the sky orange.