It was this week a year ago that Tony and I and our dear friends were in Hawaii looking forward to a vacation we planned a year before. I was on crutches but felt that this vacation would not be dampened by my handicap. Little did I know that would be the least of my worries. While the broadcast news announced closures of businesses, borders and any form of social contact, we looked at each other thinking we might be in the Twilight Zone. Idealistically, we believed this would be over soon. We just had to get home, back to Kansas you might say, and the great and powerful Oz would set things right. Then came the lockdown.

I could not think of the future because there was only today. I took up nesting habits like frequently cleaning closets, doing Google searches of what I don’t know and cooking recipes I saved but never made. Yet, we have come a long way. A year ago, I couldn’t find toilet paper or cleaning supplies. A year ago, I was skeptical of leaving the house to go food shopping yet it was my only diversion from my isolated life. I saw my kids and grandkids through weekly Zoom happy hours. The summer brought temporary relief which made it even harder to accept the second wave and to hibernate again this time in the darkness and cold of winter.

Now, as this isolation is peeling back layer by layer, I realize how I’ve come to be more in touch with myself. Having spent most of my adult life running from one task to another, I learned to slow down and take in what is right in front of me. I am lucky to have been able to spend sometime with my children and grandkids. I am so grateful to my daughter who cared for me during a difficult health stage (not COVID related). My sons also had a big part in my recovery taking time from their work to be with me. And I can’t forget Tony. They are my number one nucleus.

I also have a nucleus of good friends. They have kept me sane when I had down moments where I retreated into my cocoon. They have pulled me out and made me realized how much I really do want to belong. I’m lucky and delighted they are in my life. I have become more patient with waiting on lines, ordering in advance and losing my arrogant New York City attitude.

Having survived a sub-cold winter skiing, snowshoeing and x-country skiing, I want to be able to shed my coat and visit my daughter in Florida. I want to see people’s faces and smiles without a mask. I want to go to a concert or Broadway play. And above all, I want to travel internationally without quarantining.

Next week, Tony and I will be getting our second vaccine. I am seeing my family for Easter. I am cautiously dreaming about that trip to the lake district of Italy that was postponed from last year. To make up for lost time, I may be traveling every month as soon as they open the borders. I know the vaccine does not make us invincible , but I am cautiously optimistic. The good I have learned I will keep as my new normal and shed what doesn’t feel right anymore. I feel better already.

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