Since this all began I’ve acquired a lot of self-knowledge.

  • The difference between masks and face coverings
  • I joined two different Facebook Groups called “View from My Window” (The and A) and have actually really enjoyed seeing other people’s views from their windows. For the record, I think there’s a lot of color correcting going on out there. Some of those sunsets are insane.
  • I’ve started one friend down the road to art reenactments and I’m afraid I won’t get her or her family back. They’ve taken to it with a fervor akin to Civil War re-enactors. She’s a costume designer, too, so her closets and imagination are deep. Every time she posts another picture, I feel a little guiltier about having turned her onto this game.
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of country music. I love the sound of a guitar well played and a good twangy lyric that tells a sad story. My current passion is listening to anything Benjamin Scheuer plays. So okay, that’s not really country music. I loved his show, The Lion at the Geffen in 2015, and I guess at The Manhattan Theatre Club before that. I love Mickey Guyton. There’s something appealing now about the sense of longing and being done wrong and pushing past that that feels relevant.
  • I’m capable of having a big ugly public cry in the form of a blog post. Okay, well I guess that’s nothing new.
  • I’m a social person in an asocial situation. This makes me very uncomfortable, but less so than constantly initiating social events to avoid being alone. Fortunately, there are many others in my extended circle who are good at initiating social events. For them I’m grateful and I’ve attended four high school or college reunions in as many weeks. I’ve listened to panels presented by my extremely prestigious classmates. Classmates from these reunions have also shared Spotify COVID-19 playlists. Hundreds of tunes to listen to. Listening to them drops one right back into anesthetized collegial angst. Admittedly, they are very male playlists. I want a woman’s playlist- Karla Bonoff, Fleetwood Mac, Joan Baez, Carly Simon, you get the idea. Maybe I’ll have to make one.
  • Continuing as an impulse buyer – bought my first sewing machine which should have me making masks by May.
  • Worst thing I’ve learned by far this month was how to make chocolate cake in a cup in the microwave. Snarkily, “Thank you, Hannah.” (See bottom for the recipe but don’t say I haven’t warned you).

The confluence of events of losing my husband of 34 years with a global pandemic is…confusing, discombobulating, like being shoved by a mean older brother into the dryer with the family cat. I sometimes begin to question my sanity, or worse, in some cases, refuse to look analytically at a situation. At the risk of complete humiliation, here’s one example of how far down the yellow brick road I’ve gone recently with this.

I’ve developed a crush on someone significantly younger than I. The metaphor that won’t leave me is that if the above mentioned confluence were a sliding door, this friend’s jacket got caught when I closed the door. I like him enormously. That’s what a crush is, right? If I were to think of this situation as a cocktail, which I am starting to do with alarming frequency, the situation might be my version of a Quarantini.

  • Take 6 parts loneliness
  • 3 parts serious crush
  • 4 parts friendly response to outreach
  • 3 minty leaves of personal interpretation of signs
  • Dash of uncertainty about sexual orientation
  • Pour over a shaker full of icy fear of rejection or of losing a friend

Shake until you have a heady and disorienting foam of a cocktail. Serve in a green or purple Martini glass. Preferably on the rocks with a tiny sippy straw, an olive and three lemon slices. That’s how they served Martinis at the Hotel Diplomat when Jimmie and I were on our honeymoon in Jerusalem in 1984. See, so much of this I’ve come to legitimately and is part of the toxic soup of grieving which this coronavirus stint at home has allowed.

So the other day, I asked this unknowing victim of my affection if he had masks, then proceeded to send a video of myself demonstrating how to make a no-sew tshirt mask and wear it. His response:

“I was able to find some handkerchiefs at Target. Loving your video though! Especially that final frame.” (winky emoji)

“Good job! Thumbs up emoji” (so fucking lame it’s cringe-worthy – I feel like I’m amidst my twelve-year old girlfriends calling the DJ playing Bobby Sherman music during our slumber party.)

Later that night, as I’m getting into bed and about to turn out the light, in my new practice of thinking of the nice things that have happened during the day, I start thinking about that winky emoji and comment about the final frame of the video. I sit bolt upright in bed. What did he see?

Did I look “fetching?”
Did I brush myself up against the camera in an alluring way?

I leapt out of bed and went to the living room to grab my phone, thumbing frantically to the video, watching it again (excruciating because it’s really a terrible video), looking closely at the final frames of the video. What did he see that made him wink?

Was it the fact that I was shoving the t-shirt under my glasses, uncovering my nose in COVID inappropriate practice? No. I don’t think so.

Ah, here we go…. God this is a terribly video…Video stops, White t-shirt with graying neck over my nose, lopsidedly under my glasses, right lens of my glasses completely fogged up. Bingo. Not a sexy wink emoji, but a friendly, completely innocuous “You looked ridiculous” wink emoji.

There in the living room, at 11:30PM, I doubled over in laughter, at myself, my ridiculous desire, my widowy pandemic loneliness, and in a moment, I saw with clarity and no small degree of mortification how my friend had been unceasingly kind in ignoring what must have been obvious to him. Stop the laugh. Solemnity. Looks a lot like the moment of #ArtTwinning with the Girl and the Pearl Earring. I guess I need to go to bed earlier before this witching hour of grief hits me.

I share this mortifying story not to drive away a kind friend; God knows we all need all the kind friends we can muster, but to underline how ridiculous a moment this is in our humanity. I know I’m not alone in secret crushes, or deciding to want a companion to share the coming months of isolation with.  It’s me butting up against the loss and grief and isolation we’re all facing.

This pandemic is taking its toll on sanity, dignity, self-worth, coming to grips with aging and the vulnerability of being at risk to the coronavirus. The fact that I fixated on someone whom I don’t really know well, but think is the bees knees, who has a great sense of humor and a kind heart is understandable, and frankly, commendable.  

Whilst I’m commending myself, in the spirit of circulating recipes during the Pandemic, I’ll share that recipe I promised for Food Network’s Chocolate Cake in a Mug. Or if drinking is your thing while you social distance, here are some recipes for Quarantinis…. And I encourage you to take a moment to raise a mug of tea or whatever you drink these days… to crushes.

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