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The View From My Lockdown

 March 24, 2021
Posted by Kitzie Stern

It’s March again. This time last year I was preparing for hip replacement surgery and looking forward to our son’s wedding in May. You probably know the rest of this story — on March 17 my hip surgery was cancelled, the wedding was postponed, and our world continued its spiral into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, almost a year later, I’m grateful to have matching hip replacements — the left was replaced in May, the right in November. My days in lockdown have consisted of an endless slog of physical therapy exercises, voiceover jobs (thank goodness, although sometimes it was a job just to get into the vocal booth!) and Netflix. Yet even though days are pretty much exactly the same, it’s surprising how fast the time is going. My son would say things have gone all “timey wimey” — a quote from ‘Dr. Who,’ a TV series we both enjoy.

But I’ve been rescued by an old love. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved reading cookbooks and making the delicious recipes I find in them. 

I’ve always made bread for our family, but then came the demonization of grains and carbohydrates, and I stopped baking. It was sad. But one gift of the quarantine for me was starting to bake again, mainly for the comfort factor. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it. 

When I go into the kitchen to start a recipe, it is just the best feeling — soon the house will start to smell delicious, and there will be something good to eat. I’m baking bread again — I hate to be a cliche, but it’s mostly gluten-free whole grain sourdough and an amazing sourdough deli rye. I feel like a mad scientist when I’m in the kitchen mixing up my starters. 

To my husband’s delight, I’ve also found the perfect chocolate chip cookie! (They really are the best, here’s the recipe — you’re welcome!). I bake almost every day, and I give a lot of it away to my neighbors. Cooking makes me happy, and it makes my neighbors happy too. Win-Win.

But the wheel is turning. Spring is here, Bill & I have had the first vaccine. What will the world be like when we’re all released from our cocoons? 

Last month I read an article written by Molly Jong-Fast — she’s a native New Yorker and has been in her apartment since last March (can you relate?). She got the second vaccine and decided to go to a museum in New York. Although she was very familiar with it and had been there many times, she appreciated the experience like never before — everything felt new and slightly different. 

I imagine we’ll all have experiences like that when this is over. Personally, I’m longing to hug my children again —I can’t wait for that. And it will be a novelty to go to a grocery store, imagine that! Another deep pleasure will be getting back to the pool at our gym. I’ve never gone this long in my adult life without swimming, and I miss it on a visceral level.

Every time I pass by a mirror and see my scruffy self, I’m reminded that we have been mostly confined to our houses for a year. My makeup has been gathering dust and I live in tights and t-shirts. But scruffy Miss Kitzie will be exiting the stage soon. I’ve already made an appointment for a haircut, and a pedicure won’t be far behind.

Are you thinking, as I am, what you’ll be taking into the world as we come back? And what you’re ready to leave back there in the ‘before time’? We’ll be emerging into a new world, and our individual choices will help create it. It’s time to mourn all those we have lost this year, and also to rejoice that we’re still here. We’re alive.

So because it’s almost time to break out into a world that will be both familiar & foreign, what will the new normal look like? What will you be bringing with you?

I’ll be bringing brand-new hips, salt & pepper grey hair, a rockin’ recipe for sourdough bread. And a grateful heart for all I’ve learned & have come to appreciate this year.