This year, the last year of my 20s, was going to be epic.

I was going to see more live music than ever. In January, friends and I got on a 10-month payment plan for music festival tickets and started lining up other shows. How were we supposed to know the world was about to change?

But it did.

To save lives, nearly every way we spent time together was restricted. No catching up in bars; no dancing or playing pool. We weren't supposed to even hang out together at home. We celebrated several early spring birthdays over Zoom, sending best wishes and laughter with an awkward, few-second delay.

The concert cancellations and postponements poured in this spring: Steve Aoki at the Knit, Louis the Child at the new Pavilion venue, Beyond Wonderland and Tame Impala at the Gorge. Even Austin City Limits, slated for mid-October, was postponed.

This year I was going to get my first tattoo. That way, when people asked about it for the rest of my life, I could just say "Eh, I got it in my 20s." But between the popularity of the artists I admire and fewer appointments this year, I missed the window to get in before this week. Maybe I'll just say "I got it in the '20s" instead.

Dating in the time of quarantine? Forget about it. Aside from the obvious lack of places to comfortably meet someone new, now we had to worry about spreading a virus while even just talking? This year also made it hard to be OK with myself, let alone someone else. How fun is it to scroll through profiles when you're stressed out about the future of your career and whether your out-of-work friends are alright and if the world will ever feel normal again?

But while I could look at my 29th year as one of lost opportunities or remember how I cried more than ever, it also gave me an incredible gift: Me and my friends – my chosen family – grew closer than ever.

Some friends haven't gotten holidays or weekends off in years. But with messed up schedules, we were able to go camping together. We spent several long weekends enjoying the woods and the lake, laughing and sharing stories around the campfire, and gazing awestruck at shooting stars. We got to pretend for a minute that the world was totally OK, and so were we.

We kept each other sane during an insane year, and I could ask for no greater gift than that love, acceptance and support. If we made it through this, I think our 30s will be just fine. ♦

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...