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How will you describe 2020 in the future? What Chicagoans say.

‘Historic.’ ‘A year of loss.’ ‘A dumpster fire.’ ‘A Malort hangover that wouldn’t go away.’ ‘The year from hell.’ ‘Emotional.’ ‘Exhausting. ‘Surreal.’ Those were among the answers.

Number of people on a downtown Chicago sidewalk on Madison Street near State Street during a normally bustling weekday morning commute early in the pandemic: zero. Number of pigeons: one.
Number of people on a downtown Chicago sidewalk on Madison Street near State Street during a normally bustling weekday morning commute early in the pandemic: zero. Number of pigeons: one.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times

With 2020 in our rearview mirrors, we asked Chicagoans: How will you describe this year in the future? Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“My husband and I grew closer in quarantine even though we couldn’t do a lot of the things we wanted to. Having each other is more important than any missed activities.” — Betty Mantell

“It was the year I saw another side of some of the people in my life and how they handled themselves during a crisis. Some did it with amazing grace; some did it with amazing stupidity.” — Denise Fricano

“I describe 2020 as getting closer to God and family and being thankful for everything.” — Nunise Holmes

“A year of loss.” — Carlos Javier Ochoa Andrade

“A nightmare but grateful for what I have and my health.” — Myrna Kar

“Had lots of ups and downs.” — Cindy Duval

“The year that dare not speak its name.” — Carson Bording

“2020 proved that 50% of Americans willingly choose to believe in conspiracy theories and fairy tales rather than in science and medicine.” — Andy Burnell

“I am 72. Seen a lot, but this has been the strangest.” — John Green

“The year that showed us all who the essential workers really are. The underappreciated, underpaid frontline workers are who make up the very foundation of this country and who drive us forward. They are the first to take abuse, to be exploited by the powers that be and to lose their jobs in times like these. But, without them, we’d be absolutely nowhere. My fear is that once things go back to normal, this lesson will be quickly be forgotten. So here’s to the grocery store employees, USPS/UPS/FedEx carriers, home-care providers and definitely medical personnel. All those we’ve taken for granted!” — Cheryl Wisniewski

“We went straight from 2019 to 2021.” — Tom Valek

“Don’t take anything for granted.” — Deborah Fuller Tobias

“Eye-opening. We learned how quickly goodwill towards fellow humans during an emergency turns to save yourself at all costs. Also how dangerous science- and fact-denial can be. Horror movies are accurate when they show people needlessly putting themselves in harm’s way.” — Michael Greene

“It’s the year that I perfected my bartending skills.” — Tom Mattson

“A year that helped me develop.” — Armando David Latorre

“Very depressing. I felt so bad about people losing their jobs, kids not in school.” — Bonnie Paulsen Ballik

“It is not a year I want to relive.” — Pat Kelleher-Liszka

“Rather boring. But not. But really boring. It’s hard to explain.” — Ewan C. Dickson

“The year we all lost our marbles.” — Virginia Rodarte

“2020 was a dumpster fire.” — Thomas Roth

“I will describe it as the worst year of my life and career.” — Suzanne Bolur Rumbler

“An episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.’ ” — Kathryn Gray

“2020? Sorry, I wasn’t there.” — Patritsia Kuvshin

“A year from hell!” — Annette Mandelski Berger

“The lost year.” — Robert A. Bridgman

“A preview of hell.” — Steve Foster

“Emotional.” — Kristine Hulce Romano

“A total wash.” — Jose Alcala