Opinion

Stay-at-Home Front

Day 31: Like clockwork

It’s funny—and always revealing—when we have moments to peek back into our lives.

Birthday cupcakes with candles. Credit: Pixabay.
Birthday cupcakes with candles. Credit: Pixabay.
Carin M. Smilk
Carin M. Smilk
Carin M. Smilk is managing editor of the U.S. bureau of JNS.

As the skies move into that dusk-like hue on Fridays, it almost feels like time slows down.

I start to relax after another crazy-busy week. I realize that for some, these corona times have been dull, lonely or frustrating being all cooped up, but not for me. Not for us. In an odd way, it has become more hectic as we bump into each other on the steps, turn the volume up or down on our devices, and answer our respective phones.

Soon though, I’ll be sitting at the dinner table with all of my favorite people, sharing bread and wine, and conversation from the week. We sit longer, talk more and think less.

I’m always reminded of something a former work colleague (and good friend) said one Friday while we were still in our newspaper office finishing up. We both had rare window seats and looked directly into an apartment building in Midtown Manhattan. She would take the bus back to the Oranges in New Jersey, while I walked the 15 blocks home to my place.

She stopped by my office to drop off some copy and turned her head to look outside. She commented on how nice it was every week that the couple across the street would light candles and set the table for a fancy dinner. I must have looked at her too long because she asked, “What?”

“It’s Shabbat. That’s what they’re getting ready for. It starts after sundown, like clockwork,” I replied.

Ah. She nodded and got it. She isn’t Jewish and grew up in Washington state (and now lives in bucolic Oregon), but she’d been in New York City long enough to observe all the Jewish life. She smiled, liking it for what it was and what she thought it to be.

That memory brings extra light to my Fridays.

It’s funny—and always revealing—when we have moments to peek back into our lives. When we’re reminded of a saying or joke, an old song that dredges up bits of the past and those people associated with it. This stay-at-home period has come with that as I’ve picked through old clothes and photos, kid drawings and all the other thousand things you don’t usually have time for.

Still, I’m ready to get back to normal, whatever that may be. I could really use a movie, a trip to the library, a bagel with a friend.

There’s a new awareness, but also an old longing.

I say this as I approach my birthday on Monday. You know, that day—“May the Fourth Be With You.” (And yes, I once met “Chewbacca” at an elementary-school function on my big day.)

Last year, my husband and I had dinner out, just the two of us, and a late-night coffee and long walk. The weather, near-perfect at the start of spring, was, well, near-perfect.

This year, I’m thinking of pizza. Baking some cupcakes and letting the boys decorate them with sprinkles. And sitting round the table with my all of my favorite people, talking about the year to come.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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