“…we’re not in Kansas anymore”

Dorothy’s line in the Wizard of Oz, I’ve a feeling  we’re not in Kansas anymore, delivered to her beloved Toto when they arrived in Oz has become a classic. So many times lately it runs through my head, because we are not in Kansas anymore either. Life is not normal and many things we experience are uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing people wearing masks though it has already become routine. We live day to day with an underlying fear that the virus is out there and until there is a miracle vaccine we will not be getting back to whatever “normal” was. All we can do is adjust to the “new normal.”

In the interim for the next months, we have to accept that life has irrevocably changed for us in little ways and big ways though maybe in some instances it might end up being for the better. We are challenged to be flexible.  I have to say I’m enjoying my two writing classes on Zoom. My Wednesday morning memoir class is great as is my Friday morning poetry. The most important part about these classes is that they encourage me to write every week as well as engage with the other class members.

No one could argue less Bay Area traffic has been a positive outcome though it signifies less people going to work. It also means a fundamental change in more people being able to work from home and spending less time on the road. My son in law tells me he has gotten used to working from home despite the distractions of the children. It will be interesting to see how working from home will continue.

I miss not being able to attend my synagogue the way I used to on a regular basis. It is opening gradually in phases, at first only on for limited attendance daily services, though one must reserve  a spot in advance. Because I am a “senior” I need to get permission from my doctor to attend.  Oy vey. That sounds daunting, and I probably just won’t even try. I love getting dressed up with a nice dress and one of my many hats, going to services on Saturday morning, seeing friends, sharing a bite, socializing, and of course getting my spiritual fix hearing the rabbi speak and even from just being in the building. It is what I have done my whole life and it is difficult to not be able to do it.

I’m already fretting over the high holidays. I can’t imagine what they will look like. My high holiday traditions run deep; attending services, get-togethers with family and friends. I know for certain this year will be radically different, and it is doubtful we can even attend a limited version of services. Because we observe the Orthodox traditions, we won’t be on Zoom as other denominations will be. It will be very strange and I’m trying to wrap my head around it now in advance.

Another new phenomenon to cope with was getting a call from my husband’s doctor’s office and being informed his visit would be a tele-visit. We were not really happy with this latest change. How can there be a real check up just talking?  It seems very inadequate and I fear the beginning of a new trend.  One of my doctors is doing the same thing. I think back to when I was a child, and our pediatrician, Dr. Wolf, would make a house call if one of us was sick and sometimes come twice in one day. I still remember he would give us penicillin shots for everything. Ouch! Oh my Toto, those days are long gone .

My husband’s gym which is especially geared for cardiac rehab that he relied on and attended faithfully is closed for the next months. They don’t know when they are reopening. It’s just another reality of this current situation.  My gym is opening with pages of rules and new procedures. I’m not even sure I want to go back. The good news is that Jeff and I walk  several times every week usually around three miles at a time, and we have a list of places we like to go to now. Most of the time these locations are not crowded, and we can leave off our masks. We have discovered many wonderful scenic locales, near the bay or surrounded by magnificent redwoods. We are so lucky to have incredible natural wonders and delights very close.

I salute my sister and her new husband for adapting to the Covid 19 crisis in an amazing  and flexible way. They were supposed to get married in the summer and were planning a big celebration. Their children would be traveling from the East Coast and Israel (where my niece was spending the year with her family.) It would have been a real bash with family and friends coming from all over. Then came the virus and all their plans were derailed. These two lovely seniors, were not going to let the virus stop them. True love prevailed and they got a last minute slot to have a Zoom wedding with one day’s notice conducted by the county of San Mateo. They called their rabbi to be there remotely, informed their closest family and friends and my nephew set it up a computer and speaker in his backyard in San Carlos with his family the only people close by (but still social distancing.)

 The rabbi had told them they would exchange rings, and do the rest of the traditional  ceremony when they could have everyone gathered. They got rings from Costco the night before (which didn’t fit )and my sister put together a bouquet. Her beautiful dress was still at the dress salon, but in the end it didn’t really matter. She was a radiant bride.

The suspense was provided by the registrar from the county who kept going back and forth with them until the marriage certificate was correct which meant sending versions of it on their iPhones. I was holding my breath watching from my screen, but my sister and her husband were as cool as could be. This makeshift ceremony could not have been envisioned by my sister in all her worst pre-wedding nightmares. Finally the certificate was accepted, they said their vows, the Rabbi said a few sweet words and blessings, and they exchanged rings. Everyone all over the world  yelled Mazel Tov from their screens. In the end it was perfect and certainly a wedding to remember.

No Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore, but we are in that new place, somewhere over the rainbow. We have to emulate the happy couple, make adjustments, work around what we are able to do, accept what we can’t change for now, and above all, stay healthy and let love prevail.

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