Although my husband and I share similar ethical values, political opinions and life goals, we aren’t clones. Raised differently on different continents, we have different food habits and discordant cultural experiences. When I sink into myself on a sad afternoon, I burn incense, don earpods and listen to moody American folk songs from the 60’s and 70’s. And I clean. Sadness makes me ache for order and sanitizing.
When feeling down or unnerved, my husband pulls into himself. He won’t ‘talk about it’’; instead he spends hours watching mindless macho-man movies that he cannot remember the titles of nor recall the respective story lines. Self-medicating films feature Steven Seagal, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Vin Diesel. Our house is small and I insist he wears a headset. The blare of car crashes, gun fights and hand-to-hand combat is distracting.
In summation, I do “mood.” He does “brood.” We try to time-cap these awkward life-chapters and, unless a real crisis looms, recovery is assured.
Other standard coping mechanisms have recently shifted. As per mutual agreement, our historically reliable binge foods are no longer on hand. Does Ronney mourn the disappearance of biltong/beef jerky, pints of ice-cream, oatmeal-raisin cookies, bags of crisps? Probably. Reduced to foraging for microwave popcorn and a forlorn ricecake, he might delay his snacking until after he rides his spinning bike for an hour along with anonymous YouTube buddies. Frankly, I used to gorge in tandem, matching pizza-slice for pizza-slice and educating him on the fine art of deli-sandwich construction. Many a Saturday evening included pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream arranged according to texture on the kitchen table. Whipped cream and fudge are optional.
Almost a year into Corona, all of our coping patterns have changed, primarily because I dictate and he appreciates staying alive. Ronney’s elevated and dangerous numbers have plummeted and we are both healthier and fitter than before we heard of Wuhan. Why? Maybe because, with no reliable government or karmic authorities able to accurately predict the paralyzing length of time this pandemic is expected to last, sinking into despair and living in a state of uncertainty is not acceptable for us. Along with everyone else, we have experienced a spreading numbness and can’t really remember what life felt like before the constant quarantines and national lock-downs. It has been a year since I’ve visited with my mother. I still haven’t met one new grandson. What would happen if all of us gave into the despair of this altered reality and allowed ‘uncertainty’ to become the narrative?
At the time of this writing, Israel is in the midst of another national lock-down. Upcoming elections (four in less than two years) have been announced. Protesters block major arteries. Both the husband and I have received our first inoculations. Talk of “when life goes back to normal” has ceased because most people do not believe that the world will be the same on the other side of this scourge. What we/it will look like remains to be seen.
Until such day as we reengage or regroup and relegate Covid to the back-burners of Heinous Moments in Human History, I’ll attempt to complete decades of photo-organizing I’ve promised to get to, write a novel and, perhaps, paint the bathroom either purple or slate-gray. I’ve stopped trying to figure it all out or project what lies ahead. It’s time— yes, time!—to lace up our dancing shoes, turn up the volume, and gyrate to the pulsing beats of the tomorrows we want for ourselves and those we care for.
New York native Andrea Simantov has lived in Jerusalem since 1995. She writes for several publications, appears regularly on Israel National Radio and owns an image consulting firm for women.