After spending more than three hours cleaning and disinfecting our apartment, I have a new appreciation for my housekeeper.  My back is killing me and I didn’t even finish the job. After cleaning three bedrooms and three bathrooms (with my daughter’s help!) I had to lie down on my living room floor and stretch.  For the first time I felt my age. Samantha worked alongside me all morning and still managed to bike for an hour and walk up 9 flights of stairs TWICE.

Mopping the floors with Clorox was the coup de grace.  Vacuuming and dusting will have to wait for tomorrow. Ditto for putting away the clean laundry whenever it returns from the laundromat. Somehow Sheila completes all of these tasks (including the laundry!) in 3 ½ hours and sometimes cleans another apartment the same day! She definitely deserves a raise.  As for my own tired, sixty something body, I plan on rewarding myself with a massage when the pandemic is over, (assuming I’m not in a back brace).

My family is getting along better than expected. Not only is everyone healthy (for the moment), but enduring Covid19 has unexpectedly turned into a unique (and sometimes virtual) bonding experience. Our son Matt calls us every night from Los Angeles – a lot more than before the coronavirus shut down our busy lives.  He often calls at dinner time, so we put the phone on speaker and position it in the middle of what’s left of our dining room table (now Howard’s makeshift desk).  After pushing aside my husband’s legal papers, pens and laptop, there’s just enough space to set the table and serve the food.

Matt sounds a little lonely and stir crazy, but so are we all. We miss him and wish he could be sitting with us at the dining room table, instead of just hearing his voice. (Somehow we would make room).  But the truth is that we don’t have a lot to say to each other. Every day is the same as the day before. Nothing is new or exciting in any of our lives because our lives have literally shut down.  Our son is still able to work with his writing partner remotely. But there are no meetings and no progress toward the making of his TV or movie script. One day he talks to us on the way to the supermarket where he buys chicken and rice.  The next day he decides to eat cornflakes for dinner (much to my chagrin).

Howard and I debated flying our son home.  But would he really be safer here in NYC–the epicenter of the coronavirus–than in Los Angeles where there are fewer cases?   There’s also the risk of exposure at the airports and on the plane. And who knows what the rules would be about quarantine when he would want to fly home? We decided he’s safer staying put.

I also realize that the four us are not meant to live together 24/7 for an indefinite period. Four adults—a busy lawyer, an autistic actress who sings all day, a writer prone to migraines and me (another writer who needs a quiet place to work)—are guaranteed to end up fighting.

To be honest, I know I could not tolerate the horrifying mess and obstacle course my son’s room would become within an hour of his arrival.  When our housekeeper comes once a week and Matt visits us for the holidays, that’s a different story. Under those circumstances, being together as a family is a treat because Howard leaves for the office, Samantha goes to her rehearsals and I leave for the gym.  We all come together for meals and have conversations about what we’re doing/how we’re doing/who we’re seeing. Something is always new.

But right now, nobody’s going anywhere and not much is new. Often we are struggling to make conversations which are less than lively. Talking about the coronavirus is depressing and quickly becomes tedious and repetitive.

At the end of every conversation with our son, I realize how lucky we are that nobody has any exciting news to report. As long as we are all healthy, I’m happy to just hear the sound of his voice.

“Call us tomorrow,” I say. “Even if nothing is new.” Especially if nothing is new.

Every call ends with each of us saying “I love you,” and that’s more than enough.


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