Reconnecting With The Ones I Love
It’s early April of 2020; the light is dreamy in eastern Long Island, where my family is seeking refuge from Covid 19 in the city. Long shadows on the ground, neon green buds on the trees, and the ocean waters crash into soothing tones. And yet, we’re worried. There is uncertainty in our world. And there is no word when our children will be returning to school. My husband and I are both trying to manage our businesses and our kids, not to mention deep grief over the loss of a few close family members. A mom friend of mine told me that sometimes she’s too tired to brush her teeth at the end of the day. Sadly, I understand.
I grew up with recitals, soccer games, baseball games, and a separate birthday party for all fourteen family members: aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters. My grandmother was the center of it all. We celebrated large holiday dinners with way too much food in typical Jewish fashion. Matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, topped with small slices of orange carrots, several different kugels, and a whole table full of desserts. Dinners that nobody was allowed to miss. We were never not together. We were never not celebrating something.
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Fast forward to my move to New York. My family wasn’t thrilled with the physical distance, but I stayed close with frequent trips home and promised to call my grandmother every morning on my way from the subway into work. Three years into living in New York, I met my now-husband, Johnny.
Then came babies. Having my children made it harder to be away from my family, but I kept my new mom friends close. We’d get together every Friday night to debrief the week while the kids ran around under our feet. Pre-Covid, another tradition I created was a Sunday Night Dinner at my home in Brooklyn with a rotating cast of characters, including friends and family. We celebrated holidays, birthdays, and engagements. When someone passed the bar exam, we ate a football-shaped Carvel cake. When my beloved cousin died suddenly, two friends cooked all my family recipes to comfort us. Like so many New Yorkers, our friends, especially my mom friends, became a lifeline.
Later, a friend and I started B’nai Brooklyn, a progressive Jewish organization on a larger scale bringing families together for Shabbat services and a pizza party in Brooklyn in (so Brooklyn) a church basement. The warmth that we felt with a room full of people — kids running around, adults eating pizza and drinking wine — felt familiar to me. The crowd of 75 doubled between the first and second event, and then COVID hit. Weekly happy hours: paused. Pizza Shabbat: paused. Sunday Night Dinner: also paused.
Back in pandemic life, my nuclear family quarantined in the house with beautiful surroundings, and my big, close family met on Zoom every night (Yes, every night!) at 5 pm for THREE MONTHS.
And I really missed my friends. From the beginning, a group of four were on a text chain that went deeper and longer than any before. We chatted about the highs and lows of our days, how scared we were about what was happening. We even texted from our closets while hiding from our kids!
Mid-pandemic, the numbers were down, but us moms were way stressed. The four of us decided to get tested, quarantine carefully, and then get together for a few days at my house. What happened next was magical. There was laughter; there were tears. There was wine tasting, yoga, beach walks, and even an OUIJA board attempt (It didn’t work.) There was an epic co-working session where we threw out ideas, reviewed each others’ emails, and may have even hatched a business.
And now, as New York opens back up, I am craving the in-person community I had in Brooklyn more than ever. I’m craving warmth, fun, the ability to have a conversation with one group and then walk over to the other side of the room (or park!) and have a conversation with another. All the women I know are so tired. We’ve been keeping up households, careers, holding up kids and partners. Like no other year in history, we’ve been pushed out of the workforce. We’re worried about health and school and what the world will look like in the months to come.
There was a point in my career where I realized that almost everything I do is recreate the warmth, the joy, the fun that I felt as a kid growing up with my extended family. So it is not lost on me that I chose a career where I am always with people, be it as a community builder, teacher, or life coach.
I want to continue the feeling we felt at the end of our quarantine retreat. To feel anew, connected, refreshed, and ready to be with my beautiful friends and family.