Mother Jones put together a time capsule of stuff that has defined 2020 for us. Here is my contribution.
Zoom, or the smell of it, anyway. The smell that comes when the only interactions you have are on video chats and the extent that you keep things tidy and clean is limited to the background displayed by your computer camera. The smell of an apartment that has not had visitors for months and will not have any visitors for many more. The smell of garbage you put off taking out until it grows legs and walks itself out. The smell of mess and isolation and dread and retreating further and further into the last remaining clean parts of your home until there are none left. The smell of slovenliness unchecked by vanity. It’s a smell I’ve gotten used to, and that’s the worst bit: I don’t even smell it any more, but I know that if an electrician came by to fix something, they would smell it. It’s the smell of worrying that something might break and I’ll call an electrician. It’s the smell of anxiety about interacting with anyone at all. Even on the phone. What will we talk about? How we’re both “okay”? How do you maintain friendships when no one has anything to say? It’s the smell of being completely out of things to talk about. It’s the smell of a self-esteem that has no choice but to rise and fall based on thoughts you have too much time to think. It’s a smell I haven’t been able to avoid in 2020. Or, well, I guess I could have just cleaned more. —Ben Dreyfuss
What would you put in a 2020 time capsule?