As Time Goes By; An Interlude
Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.
― Marcel Proust
In Memoriam: Dudley Stone
And it's nearly May, 2021. The other day I almost forgot that the year had turned from 2020 to 2021, the brain's way of processing pain: suppression. Psychologists recommend that we dip into the flow of—normal —life slowly. Is this possible? We've been holding our breath and now we are gasping fresh air, meeting friends and family, hugging everyone once we've established vaccination status. No more elbow bumps. No more masks. Oh, you have a face! I remember that face. Big lips, small lips, I can see your lips, the expression on your face. I can read you again. I can, literally, see you again. Oh, you are not on Zoom, you are here in all your corporeal reality. This is, truly, a miracle.
The other day, at Main Course in New Paltz, NY, I saw the young woman at the register who had texted me early in the pandemic to ask if there was anything she could do to help, such as shopping, for example. She had started graduate school, and way back before the lockdown, she'd asked if she could interview me for an assignment, which is how she knew me beyond ordering food at our favorite go-to restaurant in town where, happy to say, she still works. I hadn't needed her to shop for a while and fallen out of touch, now here she was again. First things first, a big thank you for helping us out in those early nerve-wracked pre-mask-mandate days when it felt dangerous for those in our age group, the more vulnerable age group, to go into a supermarket. Oh, it was wonderful to "see" her again and to be able to thank her in person.
The next day, my husband went into the city for the first time in more than a year. I was skittish. This was more than a toe into the water. But he was determined. A tournament table tennis player, he had missed his friends and the intense athletic effort he'd been used to. Zoom calls twice a month with his pals weren't enough, to say the least, and he'd been trying to stay in shape on his own without the incentive of competition. Our apartment is a gym—two bikes, a rowing machine, and weights. Will this apparatus soon become artifact? Our local gym and pool are open again, by appointment and Covid questionnaire only, please, and I am so relieved I can alternate laps and the elliptical machine with walking.
And, then, yesterday morning, my city friend, Nancy, and her sweet pooch, Rudy, came to visit on their way back into town after a two-day getaway. This was as overwhelming as the first hug my daughter gave me on my birthday back in March, which as time goes by, feels like yesterday. I am teary just writing about it. I met Nancy in the parking lot behind our apartment complex where she was walking Rudy, we ripped off our masks, and had a big hug. Oh, my goodness!!!
And then, and then, and then, an invitation arrived on email from Alan for a Mediterranean meal with mutual friends in celebration of our release from pandemic incarceration. I can't wait.
So, I suppose, a kind of euphoria has set in, the euphoria of survival: most of us have made it through this terrible ordeal. And though we continue to mourn the loved ones we have lost, we must not minimize the experiences, connections and skills we have gained in this challenging interim in our lives. Indeed, dear reader, we are permitted some happiness in this one small moment in time.