8 Sivan 5780.
|Our photographer, Micha Paul, illustrating social distancing before it was a thing.|
“So, Ema, when do you think you guys will get back to normal? You know, for Shabbat visits from all of us?”
COVID-19, how I hate you. The lives you’ve taken, the businesses you’ve shattered. The weirdness for those of us who haven’t had horrible losses, b”H, but are still living a surreal existence…
There have been, as there often are, silver linings.
For one thing, I have never been “in the same boat” with so many human beings of diverse backgrounds, countries, ethnicities, religions… and we talk about this thing we all share in common with more genuine warm understanding than ever before.
I am exercising and practicing yoga and meditation more regularly. Because we’re not dining out, I am nearly 100% in control of my calories, and we’re saving money. We are calmer, more mindful, about everything.
Supporting local businesses willing to deliver has climbed to the top of our shopping list. Physical shopping, when it (rarely) happens, is extremely directed: get in; get what we need; get out. Gloves, masks, distance… Don’t touch your face holes and wash your hands like Lady Macbeth.
The Dearly Beloved points out that the minyan at “Beit Avi” is faster, because there is no long, drawn-out singing of the prayers, and nobody talks during davening. We were much more focused on counting the Omer (with a bracha!) without error than ever before. We both focus more on our prayers, because there is nowhere to rush to be.
We have the opportunity to take many free classes that used to cost money and travel time, if we could afford them at all. Famous musicians whose concert tickets were beyond our means now perform for free on YouTube, with the added sweetness of being surrounded by their talented family members.
Throwing away trash is simple. Without five containers for various forms of recycling, we just throw a thing we no longer need into one bin. (Yes, I know, I know… recycling is better for the environment. But the vacation from thinking about it has been a mind-relaxing pleasure.)
People don’t shake hands or hug anymore. This may seem like a bad thing to many people. For those of us who prefer eye contact to physical contact, it has been a blessing. I miss hugging my kids and wrestling my grandkids – but all the rest of y’all – Namaste. 🙏
We are spoiled by our young people, who are worried about us. We each learn via Zoom for an hour or more every week with one son (poetry for me and American history for the Dearly Beloved), get phone calls every week from the one who used to be allergic to phone calls, have regular communication with another via Whatsapp video at least once a week to chat or to study Hebrew, and another checks in from far away to share his ride to work via Whatsapp. Others pop in now and then, and best of all: they are communicating even more with each other, albeit virtually. Sometimes, we have even been treated to “taxi rides” to do our errands, and regular (masked and socially-distant) visits. They loved us before, but they are even more solicitous of us now.
We have very focused time with each other.
As young people begin to move out of full isolation to get back to work and school… it feels otherworldly to have to treat everyone – including our own kids and grandkids – as if they might have the plague. Reminds me of “cooties” in grade school. One feels revulsion at the revulsion…
|Best coffee on the planet.|
I miss traveling by bus, walking freely in the holy city of Jerusalem, visiting the ocean and the Kinneret, even wandering around a mall and the Mahane Yehuda shuk and Ben Yehuda Street just to visit favorite shopkeepers and artists. (Inbar and Uri and Assaf & Co., I’m talking about you guys.) I miss my favorite coffee shop (though I still get their coffee, delivered, thank you Stephanie and Brandon).
I miss my favorite book store, though the Pomeranz lads still take the trouble to bring books and news and smiles to my door.
I miss dropping by to see friends, jamming with friends and family, having the delightful surprise of guests, chatting freely with neighbors on the street or at the makolet, hosting and being hosted for Shabbat.
“I don’t know, Son. This ‘new normal’ may last a while for Abba and me.”
|The "olden days." May we see and touch those days again, soon.|
“It’s okay, Ema. You and Abba have to take care of yourselves. We love you and need you in the world. We’ll do the ‘hug’ thing later.”
Yes, my dear child. We will have saved up some bodacious hugs. Stay safe and sane. Don’t touch your face holes while you’re out in the world… and wash your hands.