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There’s an old American saying: If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In general, that’s always been my outlook on life. Of course, that was before I met the dumpster of a year - 2020.

I just reread something I wrote only two years ago for Turning Points. And in the category of how dense can you be? – an area I often have to revisit – I can offer this:

I was born in the lucky generation, baby boomers. Most of us were too young and then too old to be touched by war, with birth control pills just in the nick of time and a constantly booming economy. There were so many opportunities around: interesting jobs, very interesting drugs, great music, legal abortions and dental implants.

Everything was possible. Life was like one of those Etch-A-Sketches we used to play with as kids. When things went wrong, just shake it. Reinvent yourself. Start again. Change your partner or your job or your mantra. For every flaw there was a procedure. For every pain there had to be a pill out there to cure it. Things had always gone right, so why should they change?

We thought we were invincible. We thought we could live forever.

Whoa! What was I thinking? I could swear no one saw this turkey coming. Sure, some epidemiologists claim they warned us, but hey, I didn’t hear it.

After whining and throwing my toys around for the past year, I’m trying to find the lemonade in this total lemon of a year. It’s been like the five stages of grief, I’ve moved through: snivelling outrage to swivel-eyed suspicion of everyone who dared to breathe in my vicinity, to judging disapproval of everything, and finally, sigh, to resignation.

At this point my expectations have shrunk to just hoping to be allowed to sit outside in the freezing rain with a glass of wine. (Be allowed? I can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth - at least not since I was a kid, when Mom used to make my sister and me go to bed while it was still light out. And at least then we’d lie in bed plotting a mutiny.)

I need to keep reminding myself: Think lemonade.

Maybe the worst problem is, it’s lonely. Even Maggie, the giraffe I pass every day, stands in her doorway at London Zoo gazing out with a distant, forlorn look. I’ll bet that’s why dinosaurs went extinct. It wasn’t climate change after all. Being so big and clumsy no one wanted to come out and play with them. Look out on the street - baleful lines of people on solitary walks, faces set in resignation, blue with cold, drool under their masks.

Not to mention, the boredom. I was always convinced I liked my own company, but now that I’ve been compelled to spend a year with me, I pity my poor husband. I don’t think he’s listened to a word I’ve said since March 21, 2020. I can see in his eyes that as my mouth is moving, he’s counting the broken tiles in the kitchen. And when it comes to abject ennui, take a stab at coming up with even vaguely palatable meals every single night for an entire year. One day I expect him to doze off with his head in a plate of cod.

No, no. Forget all that. Think lemonade.

Hope for herd immunity. Cling to each encouraging sentence in any article, even a shard of good news is better than the doom-mongers tolling the plague bell. Listen to the scientists, but only so much. Remember they told us that masks were a waste of time in the beginning.

Concentrate on making lemonade.

Some time back (and who knows time anymore!) they promised we'd be coming out of a total lockdown in mid-April. Yay! Then I'll be able to go out for dinner at least outside. Only I won't be allowed to meet up with a lot of friends until…oh, maybe late summer or fall. So, in my mind I was thinking from then on, it would just be half-empty restaurants with a few silent couples, grimly masticating their food, staring at one another just as they have been doing every night for the past year. But this morning we booked a table and in under a month I will actually go to a restaurant, and I now believe it will be a revelation! First off, I won’t have to shlep to a supermarket. I'll just walk into a room, and someone will come up and ask ME what I want to eat. And then they'll cooked it for me. And after that, get this, I'll get up from that table and leave all the dirty dishes behind.

Truly I then will know lemonade!

When I was a kid, we used to have Dad’s lemonade which we’d take on picnics. As I remember this was his recipe: Mom would get down the Thermal jug and wash it out. Then she’d cut the fresh lemons and squeeze them all by hand. After that, she’d add the sugar and then she’d add the water. Finally, Dad would come in and stir it a couple of times. All of which made it Dad’s lemonade. Of course, I know about this because Mom constantly whined about it to us. So, while Dad got his lemonade accolades, Mom got to complain about it. Which I guess was her lemonade.

And as for me, at the beginning of this blog I got to reuse some old material. How rare is that? So, in a way I can class that as my lemonade.

TURNING POINTS from Crowd-Writing

a book by Shelley Katz

Out Now


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