Looking At 2021 With 2020 Vision

8 min read

What a freaking year that was! I don’t believe many of us thought that 2020 would be what it turned out to be. We all suffered through last year in our own ways. My hope is that it wasn’t all suffering and tragedy for you. Here is a recap of my 2020 and a checklist of what my plans for 2021 are.

Vacation & Engagement 🇫🇷🇮🇹💍

2020 started with my girlfriend and I impatiently waiting for February when we would finally get to see each other again in Europe. We were in a long distance relationship, she living in Colombia, and myself in the USA. France and Italy are magical countries and we absolutely adored our time in Paris, Rome, and Palermo. It will always be a memorable trip for us because it’s where I asked her to marry me. I proposed at the Trevi Fountain and she said yes. Bar none the best day of our trip.

We celebrated my 32nd birthday in Palermo, Italy where we had a very nice Air BnB in Mondello right off the Mediterranean Sea. That same day we would find out from family that the virus that had become and issue in China had made its way to Italy and was ravaging the North of the country, mostly Milan. We would find out later that day that Palermo had had its first confirmed cases at the airport. With 5 days left in Europe we began to focus on what countries were doing. Luckily and with much bitter sweetness we said our good byes a few days before Europe closed and we flew home to our respective countries. We had no idea what was in store for us.

It’s a Paaaaaaandemic!

Shortly after arriving home in Colombia my fiance would be subjected to the longest lock down in the world. From March to September Colombia would shutdown and close its borders to all traffic in and out. She would be able to go out one time a week to get groceries on her designated day for 3-4 hours and take her dog out twice a day for 15 minutes. Meanwhile in Portland, Oregon life continued on as normal. Appointlet moved to being fully remote weeks before the governor made non-essential works stay home or work from home. It would not be until nearly June that masks were required…when entering businesses. In Colombia if you did not have a mask on at all time outside your home you would get a hefty fine and or go to jail. The stark contrast of how our countries were dealing with the pandemic was not lost on either of us. I complained while my freedoms were generally still intact and she was a prisoner in her own home. The worst part being neither of us had any idea when we would be able to see each other again. My trip to Colombia for April was cancelled as soon as Colombia closed its borders. As many couples moved online, forced into long distance relationships, we watched as their relationships fell apart. With both of us being introverts and having already been doing the LDR thing for 9 months it was like we were born for this! Not to say we did not have our struggles, but we survived it.

Losing Grandpa ⚱️

The unexpected call at midnight in Portland saying he is gone will forever haunt me. No my grandfather did not die of the Rona. He was finishing up some yard work and collapsed in his front yard of a massive heart attack. His neighbors found him and tried their hardest to resuscitate him while EMS was on their way. His wife had to watch in horror as people tried and tried to bring him back.

He was 80.

He was the closest thing to a male role model I ever had in my life. He was my fishing buddy and my “shoot the shit” buddy. Hours before he passed I had sent a photo to the family group chat of me grilling steaks and drinking keg beer in the gorgeous August summer weather of Portland. He responded with:

And never leave home cool way to live now if that was where Nat lives that would be great!

I remember seeing the text and thinking I should FaceTime him. It will forever be one of the biggest regrets of my life.

I balled my eyes out in a way which I have not cried since the war. The next morning at daylight I drove to the lake and went fishing in his memory.

I miss him every day.

Tour de Fam 🛫

Oregon was on fire…like real bad! It looked like London pea soup fog outside the fires were so close to Portland. My family was worried and wanted me out of there just as my fiance did. When I told my fiance I would go to my mother’s for a week or two in Illinois while things blew over in Portland she jumped at the opportunity to get me an appointment at the Colombian Embassy in Chicago. Colombia had just reopened internally and would be opening internationally in the next month. We had already agreed I would move to Colombia so this was our window to make shit happen.

And so began “Tour de Fam”. Three weeks of traveling from one end of the country to the other and back while working remote and saying my goodbyes.

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Springfield, Illinois
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Salina, Kansas
  • Abilene, Kansas
  • Alexandria, Virginia

Losing Miller 🐶🐾⚱️

The week before my one way flight out of the USA I got a call from my cousin that was heart-wrenching. Miller, his dog and defacto my dog, had taken a turn for the worse. His bad hip that had been causing him more and more problems over the last two months was more than a bad him. He had a tumor in his bone that was malignant and growing rapidly. He was having trouble walking on it all anymore and was losing control of his bowels more and more as the days passed. The decision was a simple one the execution of it not so much. Another flight back to Kansas last minute to do something I don’t think anyone ever really wants to have to do.

Miller had a great “last day”. One last walk with us, spaghetti and Chick-fil-A, lots of hugs and love. Holding him in my arms as he breathed his last breath the weight of 2020 came crashing down on me. My cousin and I both lost our shit that day.

Rest In Peace Doodie Bear

It’s Go Time 🇺🇸🛫🇨🇴

With 5 days until I moved internationally to say I was stressed out was an understatement. Running all over taking care of last minute things, working, selling things, giving things away. I remember one of the last nights my roommates got a few growlers of beer and we just sit back and relaxed. I will never forget their kindness in bringing me into their home when I had been homeless. They are some of the most wonderful people I have had the pleasure of getting to know in my life.

With my negative PCR test in hand the journey began.

  • Portland to LA
  • LA to Guatemala City
  • Guatemala City to Bogota

34 hours…and all of it in a fucking mask! That part sucked but traveling during a pandemic when rules and laws change daily I was more worried about Colombia closing it’s borders again, my test not being the right kind, or getting sick during the trip and them not letting me in.

When the customs agent asked me my business in Colombia and I told him about my fiance and I being separated and we planned to marry you could visibly see his eyes soften and he gladly stamped my passport for a full 90 day permit.

You good, go on, go be with her.

I don’t think we have ever embraced as hard as we did outside of Bogota’s airport. We did it, we survived the pandemic!

Lo hago (I do) 💍

I never really saw myself getting married in a courthouse (come to think of it I never saw myself getting married in Colombia either 🤣) and I think my fiance probably thought the same; but there we were at the notary’s office. My gringo ass trying to understand all the Spanish, our horrible translator that showed up late, the amazing notary who said “no no you will get married today, I will wait for your translator”. Looking in her eyes and saying “I do”, that is a moment I will always remember. The happiest day of my life thus far.

Looking Forward

2020 was indeed a hell of a year it was filled with many tears but also many triumphant moments that I will look back on more so than the the bad times. We are beginning the process of applying for my spousal visa so I can stay long term in Colombia and building our life together. Appointlet is on the verge of finally launching the software I have worked on for the last +2 years. 2021 will be a year of more growth because that’s what you do: “You grow or die”.

~ Cody 🚀

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Cody Brunner

Cody is a Christian, USN Veteran, Jayhawk, and an American expat living outside of Bogotá, Colombia where he works as a Senior Frontend Developer for WAO Fintech.