By Nancy Davidoff Kelton
I am 72 and was born and raised in Buffalo. Since college, I have lived in Manhattan. I am a writer. I work at home and talk to myself. My husband, Jonathan, now works at home. I have to talk to him.
Other than that, I have not much changed my routine.—or my clothes.
The only people who have seen the haircut I got the first week in March are Jonathan, grocery store cashiers and shoppers, including one who sneezed too close to me, and the Union Square Whole Foods security guard letting in senior citizens at 7:30 am. I am grateful I can shop without being near close sneezers.
About my haircut, my mother would have said, “it falls into place nicely. She and I talked about my hair and clothes. She called my black tops ‘dreary,’ and urged me to wear bright designs with flowers and flamingos.
I miss our talks about my dreary clothes. If she were alive, I would feel guilty that she was in a nursing home and I could not visit her.
I miss my children and grandchildren, who live in California. I had hoped to visit them this month. I am grateful for our Facetimes, which include bedtime stories. I put on earrings, lipstick and eye makeup for the first time in three weeks to read them “Dog vs. Cat.” I bought myself a copy in December when I bought it for my grandson. Jonathan read them, Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now. We have the copy I bought for my daughter 39 years ago.
I miss my New School classroom. I have been a writing instructor there since 1980. A technically competent substitute is teaching my April sessions remotely. My students are probably as grateful as I am that I do not have to Zoom.
I do not miss having a cleaning person. I haven’t had one in years. Unlike friends, whose housekeepers are working remotely and sending them instructions, I clean more often and with more disinfectants than before. I clean more than I shower.
I do not miss my vacation home. I do not have one of those either. A friend said she is hunkering down “out East” not in “East Hampton” to avoid sounding like a snot-nose. I reminded her that owning an East Hampton beach house is not what makes someone a snot-nose and that she is a caring friend.
I do not miss the gym. I love walking along the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty in view. I think about my grandparents’ journeys, arrivals, and quarantines. I think about Don Corleone’s too.
I miss hugging my family “out West.” I miss feeling safe back East. I am grateful Andrew Cuomo is our governor and that many thousands of mental health care professionals are volunteering their services. I may voluntarily share my terror remotely. Now I am grateful for my health, the health and love of my family, and a loving husband who, in between our five daily meals, plays Scrabble with me. I am grateful I usually win.
Nancy Davidoff Kelton, the author of seven books and numerous essays in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, and other publications, teaches at the New School and Strand Bookstore. On June 8, 2020 the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York will present the first staged reading of her play, Finding Mr. Rightstein, which she adapted from her memoir with the same title.