When we started planning faith’s birthday in January, we were hesitant to book flights to NYC because of anxiety about how close Trump seemed to be to starting WWIII with the Iran crisis. I remember calling my mom and weighing the risks of waiting to buy tickets and watching prices escallate vs the unknown of what the world would look like by April. But we wanted to go on a trip together to celebrate, to be with her family, to enjoy playing Pokemon Go in Central Park…
We couldn’t have fathomed how much would change in the three months or so between booking the trip, and the day we were supposed to leave. The change was incremental: First we cancelled the flights and replanned for gathering with LA area family; then the Stay at Home order excluded even private gatherings of more than two people from different households. Believing in the science, when it goes against what we wish could be, when the threat is invisible and the letdown on their faces is not, is Hard. Finding the balance between making room for the sadness of birthdays spent in isolation and gratitude for the fact the threat is invisible because we are all still healthy, is Hard.
April 3rd, I made my weekly grocery trip with special birthday foods in mind, and with a turn of luck I was able to get everything I needed. Over the weekend I made Boeuf Bourguignon, with sauteed spinach and onions, an un-rationed abundance of floofy white rice, entirely too many cannolis for the two of us (discovered there was such a thing as too many), a giant pot of lelot, homemade chocolate truffles…
As big and scary as the pandemic is, for a weekend we let it fade to the edges. We focused on being present with each other, where we were safe and healthy and able to celebrate in a way that felt authentic to our homebody-, foodie- selves: We feasted for days, blocked out the news and most social media, and managed to feel somewhat grounded and re-centered.
[I had, by this time, established a practice of grabbing a screenshot of the day’s numbers as published at infection2020.com so I would have an easy resource to refer to as my memory began to blend days and weeks together. I swallowed hard when I saw the deaths surge from 9,666 just 24 hrs earlier to over 11,000, but put my phone away. Nothing really changed as the deaths crossed the threshold of ten thousand, its significance is perceptual. Nonetheless, this marked an order of magnitude, and as such left an imprint on my psyche.]