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When you can’t get what you want, you realize what you need

Linda Haase explores wants and needs as the pandemic wanes.

Cindy Sher is on maternity leave. What follows is a guest column written by Linda S. Haase, Senior Associate Vice President of Market Communications for JUF. 

I have not baked bread, not even once. I need to say that up front.

I also have not made my own candles or created tie-dyed masterpieces. I have not digitized my family photos, become a Peloton fanatic or learned to knit. 

What I have done during the pandemic--what we all have done--is to stay alive.

I'm a planner by nature, and by god, did I plan. When COVID-19 hit, I stocked up on hand sanitizer, Clorox, and masks. I got a second patio table and fire pit to entertain outdoors. I scheduled meals for three weeks at a time to minimize how often my husband went to the grocery store. The ebb and flow of perishables from my refrigerator was a synchronized dance, where I played roulette with the produce. Would we use the arugula in time? How about the lemons? Is that wilted broccoli still okay to eat?

I cut my husband's hair and my own, generally after a glass of liquid courage. He wound up with the feathered 'do of a 1980s high school homecoming king, while I sported a blunt brown bob with lots of, er, natural highlights. I streamed Shabbat services. I worked from home, grateful that I could do so.

And I pouted. Big time. 

We had planned a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Greece with another couple for spring 2020, coinciding with our 30th wedding anniversary. At first, we hoped we could postpone until the fall; fall came and went. As the weeks of the pandemic lumbered by, my visions of the stark white coast and impossibly blue waters of Santorini slipped away. I had never been to Greece, and now wondered if I'd ever get to go. 

And then, over the winter, something shifted in my psyche. During those long homebound months--no longer able to host Shabbat dinners on the patio, or visit with friends and family in the backyard, or meet with colleagues on their porches--I no longer pined for Greece; instead, I pined for the couple we were supposed to travel with. 

Now summer is here, and I feel like Greece can wait--but I can't wait to have dinner with Betsy and Steve. I can't wait to visit my friend Deb in Florida; I'll even go there in the middle of this steamy season when it's 99 in the shade. I can't wait to host my family for Shabbat dinner and celebrate birthdays in person. 

It's often been said that the pandemic has put in stark relief what's really important. Turns out, we can do without a lot. All that's important is people. Our community. Our friends and families. Our colleagues. 

I even miss the folks I ride the train with. 

At the pandemic's height, the best way we could protect the people we love most was to stay away from them. Now, as more and more of us are vaccinated and we slowly emerge from our homes and pods, we are left with another challenge (beyond fitting into real pants again):

How do we talk to people? 

We haven't just missed a year of each other's lives, we've missed a year of socializing regularly, and that muscle may have gotten a little flabby. Now getting in shape for summer means something new. Like any exercise regimen, I guess we start slowly. But this is one time I can't wait to stretch my muscles.
As for Greece? It can wait until next year. 

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