By Naomi Serviss
When the pandemic cratered 2020 and forced isolation was prescribed, I nearly lost my way.
I am by nature a gregarious entertainment journalist, attuned to conducting Broadway interviews and sharing first-person insight.
Covid-19 crashed our collective normal and my personal roadmap. Gone were my great expectations of live, world-class productions, followed by backstage chats and off-the-record asides.
Virtual performers now valiantly strive to approximate in-person experiences. It's not the same.
We’re all suffering. Still we persevere.
Until we can’t.
Having chalked up six earthly decades, my infrastructure is starting to disappoint.
After hip replacement surgery, two foot surgeries further condensed my world. Gone was my stoic independence, replaced by reliance on the love of family and the kindness of friends.
My husband Lew, a New York Times editor, works at home, virtually producing the paper with fellow editors.
Roberta, a beloved friend who lives a block away on the Upper West Side, brings me cinnamon raisin bagels and sugarless fruit scones. Nancy, a South Carolinian, intuits my dark moods and sends chocolate babka from Zabar’s.
Our son Ben sends jokey gifts like a mini spinning carousel and bendable cartoon figures. He surprised us with photos of himself proposing to his soulmate Katherine. Daughter Emmy sends over-sized cards, stickers and videos of her silky cats, Theo and Pippin. Still, recovery is painfully slow and my mood sometimes darkens.
Frustrated and at times spiraling into depression, I seek solace from the burgeoning pile of bedside books. A Burt Lancaster biography. Carrie Fisher’s last memoir. An online BBC movie group fills unstructured time. Watching indie films challenges remaining brain cells. Photo albums are getting organized.
Lew assumes all caregiving, from shopping to laundry. His Virgo-optimism buoys me up when deadly daily news heightens my anxiety. He maintains the seltzer stockpile. Memories of ambulance sirens darken my dreams, transforming them into ashen nightmares.
Accustomed Central Park walks are verboten. Aerobic workouts are sacrificed for my mending bones. Our family's last gathering was Thanksgiving 2019. Fortunately, Emmy and Ben are healthy, by turns angry, despondent yet relieved their Baby Boomer parents are maintaining.
Meditation habits ingrained after years of Sunday communal gatherings have shattered. Treasured memories of desert spa retreats bubble up. I'm painting again. Frenzied construction paper collages are propped on bookshelves.
I squeeze tubes of red and orange paint on rice paper in abstract shapes. My emotional temperature inches towards normal.
A faint memory of casitas carved from ancient red rocks is percolating.
Sedona, Arizona. Mii amo Spa. Decades ago, a brief respite there re-ignited my flickering life force. Senses heightened by the stars and surprise snowfall brought cleansing tears. Mii amo is Native American for "Journey." Whispered, it's a love poem.
Spa team members guide guests along their body, mind and spirit journeys. Myriad treatments and tranquil healing spaces await discovery. A perfect sanctuary, Mii amo shielded me from Manhattan deadlines and endless indignities of city life.
We cautiously baby step away from pandemic panic towards normalish life. Soon we will be hugging loved ones and toasting moments great and small.
I will walk with a steady gait, my heart healing and full.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com