Here We Go Again by
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Ouch! 2nd COVID shot, March 6, 2021

Between March 2020 and March 2021, I wrote five stories about the pandemic, my own plague journal a la Daniel Defoe. I ended the last one, Losing A Whole Year, with the thought that my journal was finished. But now it is a year later, and here we go again.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, I wrote five stories about the pandemic, my own plague journal a la Daniel Defoe.

The last event I went to before everything shut down in 2020 was a Purim celebration. In my first pandemic story, Don’t Get Around Much Any More, I wrote “On Monday, March 9th, I went to the Purimspiel at my synagogue. There were a lot of people there, although perhaps not as many as in other years. When the servers came around with fresh-baked hamentaschen, they were wearing gloves. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my last public event before the crisis hit Sacramento.”

Coming full circle, this year on March 16th, I again went to a Purim celebration, which was the first in-person gathering at the synagogue since that Purim two years earlier. In the interim, all services, bar and bat mitzvahs, and even funerals and shivas had been conducted on zoom or livestreamed on the synagogue’s youtube channel. It was wonderful to be with people again after two years apart. We had fresh-baked hamentaschen again, but we ate them outside in the courtyard. Dinner and socializing was outside and unmasked, but when we moved inside for the Megillah (reading of the Book of Esther) and Purimspiel (funny play telling the story of Purim), we all put on masks.

The featured image is from my second shot in March 2021. I followed that up with a booster in November 2021 but didn’t take a picture. Most people I know have already gotten a second booster, for a total of four shots. I have not yet, but probably will soon. I go unmasked to most places now, and see a mixture of masked and unmasked faces. Our synagogue just eliminated the mask requirement for services, but the choir continues to sing masked, because there are two or three people who are either immunocompromised themselves or have grandchildren who are.

I generally carry a mask with me whenever I go out, just in case I need one, but sometimes I forget. I find that any location that requires masks has a stack of disposable ones available, so there isn’t really any need to carry one at all.

What may have changed forever as a result of covid? Zoom is likely to be a permanent part of our lives, and I am glad of it. It is so liberating to have meetings and doctor visits this way, instead of having to travel for them, as well as being able to see faraway friends and relatives. To me, this is the one benefit of the pandemic, and it is huge. For my upcoming 50th college reunion, we have been having panels and gatherings on zoom since last November, and it has really increased the feeling of connectedness among classmates. Another change that seems like it might be permanent is people wearing masks in crowded situations. It certainly cuts down on the colds and flu as well as covid, so maybe that’s a good thing too.

I only left home twice during year two of the pandemic. In July 2021 we were thrilled to have a family reunion, after having to miss our annual gathering in 2020. My husband and I, as well as our son and daughter, were able to drive to our reunion house since it was in San Diego this time, but the New York and Colorado contingents of the family nervously flew, and it turned out to be okay. In January 2022, I attempted to go to a yoga retreat in Mexico, but only made it as far as LA before all further flights were canceled by airlines whose employees were sick with the omicron variant of covid.

Now, in year three, I am excited about my trip to Massachusetts in late May and early June for my in-person 50th reunion, as well as other events both before and after. I hope not to be needing a mask at all then, except perhaps on airplanes or other public transportation. It’s certainly a weird feeling though, not being sure whether we are still in a pandemic or not. I prefer to think we are not.

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy


Characterizations: moving, right on!

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Suzy, you mark the pandemic time well with Purim being the last event before shut-down and your first in-person event again this year. Like you, I always have a mask with me and judge whether or not I need to wear it in any given situation.

    I agree that Zoom will become a valuable tool, added to our lives. I find no fault with talking to doctors on a screen unless I need to be seen in person, and, as lovely as in-person events can be, having hybrid lectures, allows people from all over the world to participate, so I’m with you on that score too.

    Our group of 6 friends had lots of discussion in Carmel 2+ weeks ago (just as the second booster was approved) about when and if to get it. One of the group is a doctor (though not an immunologist). He reasoned there was no reason NOT to get it, and if we got it early, then, if a variant-specific booster became available in the autumn, enough time would have passed for us and we’d be eligible for that one too. So that was the thought process.

    COVID is sure to continue to cause disruptions to our lives (as you experienced with your cancelled flight to Mexico due to lack of staffing). We just can’t predict how much and where those will occur.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Not surprisingly, Suzy, you too have talked about coming full circle in year three of COVID — and also found a very apt title for your story other than “The Circle Game.” And, as you know, I have also been dealing with very similar 50th reunion planning and preparation this past year — even if our reunion is really in year 51st, and not exactly blessed by The Powers That Be at our caring little institution of higher learning. So, to state the obvious, I really resonated to your story.

    A couple of photo-related questions. First, who took the picture? (It does not seem to have been taken by any of the four arms, two of them yours, in the photo.) And second, did it really hurt that much? Or were you just wincing in anticipation? Worth it, in any event.

    • Suzy says:

      The photo was taken by my husband, one of a series he took in rapid succession while I was being jabbed. There is one with my eyes open and a smile you can’t see, which was the featured image in Losing A Whole Year. I decided to use a different one from the same series for this story. Whether it really hurt or I was just mugging for the camera I can’t really say at this point, more than a year later. I recommend opening both stories in different tabs and going back and forth for an amusing comparison.

  3. Marian says:

    Let’s hope that the variant surges cooperate, Suzy, and we can get to spring and summer events like your reunion. I have been invited to a wedding in July, and it feels like such a novelty. Our little synagogue has resumed outdoor services, which is wonderful, and still offers a Zoom option. Not only a lifesaver, Zoom has enabled my poetry group to meet more often, without people having to fight Silicon Valley traffic or drive in the dark. I believe our lives have changed forever, both for worse and better.

    • Suzy says:

      Yes, for better and for worse, just as it says in the marriage ceremony. We are married to this virus for the foreseeable future, but maybe soon it will just seem like the flu, which we get a shot for every year.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    I have to echo your sentiments about the benefits of zoom and acceptance of mask wearing, and hopes for a successful in-person reunion in June. I’m guessing there will be ebbs and waves of precautions going forward, but the best news so far is that if you are vaccinated, there is only a tiny chance of being really sick or dying—good news for everyone we know and love who takes the advice to heart.

  5. Me too Suzy, I’ve labeled myself “cautiously optimistic”, hope that’s not “foolishly optimistic”.

    We plan to travel by plane in mid-May for the first time since cancelling a trip as Covid threatened in Feb 2020. Hope we won’t see the need to cancel this one!

    Enjoy your upcoming 50th reunion, a fabulous milestone!

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I love how you bracket your Covid experiences with Purim. It’s also interesting to see how your Purim celebration has changed, even with minimal masking. Your thoughts about Zoom echo mine. I think it works pretty well for keeping in touch with people I didn’t normally see that often like my brothers and friends who live out of town. It’s also good for groups in which some people have health problems and are better off not being around too many people. At least they can participate.

  7. Dave Ventre says:

    Purim is one of my favorite holidays, despite me being a (very ex-) Lutheran. Delicious pastries and wine? I’m in! My Jewish friends say it’s ideal for me.

    I am disturbed by the featured image. I never watch when I must get a shot, so I had NO IDEA that they drive those suckers in to the hilt. Amazing they hurt as little as they do. I got my second booster on Thursday and the tech had mad syringe skills, as I literally felt nothing. Some people are definitely better at it than others.

  8. How frustrating to get as far as LA on a trip to a yoga retreat! I suppose they somehow got you back home. And yes, let’s hear it for Zoom and all forms of remote communication — in measured amounts.

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