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.