One of the great discoveries for many of us these past 18 months of the pandemic has to be the marvels of Zoom. For those of us who are retired and not needing to be part of a virtual office, it has allowed us to safely take classes, participate in all sorts of cultural and religious events and, most importantly, stay connected to friends and family.
For me, it has allowed for a get-together with cousins (one of whom I’ve never met and several whom I haven’t seen in years) living all over the country. We live in blue states and red states and pretty much cover all the possible time zones in the country.
Conversing with first cousins who remember some of your most embedded childhood memories, of people and places, is remarkable. Meeting first cousins for the first time is also amazing.
It’s a silver lining of the pandemic and I’m looking forward to it ending, once and for all, to be able to meet or get together again, in person. Finally.
If, like me, you read a newspaper –or 2, watch or listen to the news, get emails and push notifications from reliable news organizations, listen to news podcasts (also reliable), or get emails or texts from family members or friends, you’re probably getting Covid updates many times in a day. Some may contain new and important information for you personally. Some of it you’ve heard a zillion times before. And some of it, frankly, seems to contradict other disseminated information.
“ENOUGH!”, I mutter, as I yank my ear buds out if I’m listening to a news podcast or slam down the lid of my laptop, if I’m reading a newspaper online. I’m Covided-out!
My news blackout period holds until I receive the next push notification on my phone on, you guessed it, Covid.
I live on the Upper West Side in New York City, near Riverside Park, one of the city’s most beautiful parks. There’s no question that my daily walks through Riverside Park during the pandemic’s lockdown were how I managed to enjoy a regular exercise routine. Those walks also helped keep me from feeling isolated.
However, last spring and summer, like most New Yorkers, I wore two masks outdoors all the time. I’d walk past blooming trees and bushes in the spring and couldn’t smell their fragrance. I remember once taking a walk after a drenching spring rainstorm and, with no one around, briefly removed both masks to inhale the smell of the wet earth and trees. It was truly a memorable moment.
Now, however, since I’m vaccinated, I’m not wearing any mask outside, and the smell of the park’s trees, flowers and earth are everywhere on my walks.
It’s extraordinary how the many deprivations caused by the pandemic cause us to appreciate what we have in ways we may never have before.
I’m very grateful for all the Etsy shops selling masks now. I’ve bought a few with filter pockets and am inserting cut-up vacuum cleaner bags or Scott Shop towels. They seem to work just fine, fit snugly and let me continue to breathe through them.
My building requires everyone to mask-up in all public spaces: elevators, hallways, lobby, laundry room, mail room. So putting on a mask is as much a part of my apartment-leaving routine as taking my keys.
When I venture out for short walks on Riverside Drive, about 90% of the people during this week #8 are wearing masks. That percentage has certainly increased in the past few weeks, although there are a few people wearing them around their chins. It’s not clear what they’re thinking since there aren’t that many places in NYC where you’re not 6′ away from another human being. So having them constantly over your nose and mouth is certainly the way to go.
A stubborn group of non-mask-wearers are the runners who (mostly) don’t have them on. It’s also hard to stay out of their way when they run in the middle of the walkway. Maybe they haven’t heard the news that there’s a pandemic, or, as Governor Cuomo said, maybe they’re just selfish.
I’m hoping I’ll get used to the feeling of wearing a mask before those 90 degree high humidity days begin here in the city. Then wearing a mask on a cool spring day will seem pretty pleasant. No question that, as with most things and this pandemic, it can always be worse.