A Brief History of Corona Time

StaceyBrodskyStacey BrodskyThis reflection was sent to Scarsdale10583 by former resident and Scarsdale Village Trustee Stacey Brodsky:
Once upon a time six long weeks ago, I walked across Central Park to an elementary school where I volunteered as a reading tutor, rode the subway to a pilates class, met three friends for mah jong lessons, took the bus home, walked the dogs, picked up my suitcase, grabbed a cab to LaGuardia and flew to visit one of my daughters at grad school in Virginia.

Once upon a time, four and a half long weeks ago, my husband and I left the city with the dogs for our house on Long Island. We stopped on the way at a large nearby supermarket where we laughed with relief that few people were shopping, the shelves were packed to the ceiling, and panic buying wasn’t a thing. We had successfully escaped the rapidly approaching corona battlefield. Two days later we stood online for 55 minutes waiting to check out at the same supermarket which was now crammed with people and rapidly being denuded. I felt like some crazy end-of-days cultist and I kept trying to justify to myself that I wasn’t hoarding, despite the fact I was certain that food, paper goods, and cleaning product supply chains would never be at risk. Even though stockpiling made me queasy, I kept at it out of the fear - that I was equally certain would never come to pass - it might become too dangerous to go to the supermarket. And maybe it wasn’t hoarding anyway, since nothing in the freezer or pantry would go to waste because the house would be filled with our kids and friends starting Memorial Day weekend and lasting straight through the summer.

My husband has a weak immune system and other risk factors, and after that shopping trip, he hasn’t walked into another building other than our house again. I never returned to that large supermarket and switched to small specialty markets to replenish our supply of fresh produce.

Once upon a time, three and a half long weeks ago, I donned a mask when I picked up prescriptions at the pharmacy. Even though I’d been wearing disposable gloves for a while, the mask made me feel like a crazy person germaphobe and when I got to the store only one other equally mad soul was wearing one. That same day, one of our daughters flew home from Portugal on a flight she scrambled to book as soon as President Trump announced the imminent travel ban from Europe. That same week, our other daughter and her boyfriend tried to figure out where they could escape to if they left grad student housing in Silicon Valley which was already in lock down. They stayed put, in what was then a major hot spot, out of fear of infecting my husband if they came to Long Island or his sister, brother in law and infant, if they went to Connecticut.

Once upon a time, three long weeks ago, when the sun finally came out and the weather warmed up for a day, we took a bike ride and discovered that a local open air farm stand was selling milk, butter, cheese, eggs, yogurt, meats, fish and poultry as well as produce and I determined to swear off even small stores entirely. I broke my vow a small handful of times despite the feelings of utter anxiety every time I did.

Once upon a time, two long weeks ago, Dr Deborah Birks announced at a coronavirus daily briefing that people should stop shopping in food stores or the pharmacy and I stopped.

Once upon a time, two long days ago, as I waited for my turn at the farm stand, I saw two women who were shopping ahead of me without masks or gloves. I left and ordered from a food co-op that will deliver next week.

Once upon a time one long day ago, we heard in rapid succession that a brother in law’s surrogate father is dying in a NYC hospital, a dear friend’s mother is in the ICU, the mother of our daughter’s boyfriend is hospitalized, another friend’s sister is sick though recovering but the sister’s boyfriend has died, and one of our oldest friends is trying to navigate how and if to treat a newly discovered tumor in a world where a visit to a doctor or hospital seems riskier than cancer. I didn’t go on a daily five-mile walk with my husband or have zoom cocktails with friends. Instead, I sat on the couch and watched eight straight hours of Downton Abbey.

Once upon a time, we owned a different house about six miles away from where we are today, on a street called Mount Misery. The street was named during the flu pandemic of 1918 when a field hospital was built on then empty land to care for the sick and dying outside of the village boundaries. If I can get off the couch today, I’m going to drive there to remind myself that this too is sure to pass. Right?