One year ago today, March 8th, 2020, I had my last my meal in a restaurant. You now, like a real “sit at the bar and have cocktails and dinner” kind of experience. At that point, I had certainly heard of the coronavirus, but it wasn’t all-consuming quite yet. My diary entry for February 27th was the first mention of it: “Coronavirus. I just wanted to acknowledge it in case it becomes this huge thing that brings down our world…” On March 6th, I wrote “So, coronavirus… does it actually have me worried? Yes, a little bit it does.” On March 7th I wrote “Coronavirus is cray cray.” The next day, my husband and I went out to dinner, aware enough of this possible pandemic to make sure the bartender wiped down the bar, but not aware enough to know what was to come. We went to a restaurant in Astoria called Sugar Freak.
It was a crowded Sunday night and I was so eager to eat all the fried foods and drink all the spicy margaritas. I remember sitting next to another couple and talking to the guy about his fried catfish and how delicious it was. He was probably only six inches away from me instead of six feet. The bartender was friendly, the food was incredible and it was a great night; one of those New York City evenings where everyone can sense that Spring is right around the corner. When I posted a photo of my cocktail onto my Instagram page, someone immediately commented “No way!!! I work there!! See you soon!!!” Within minutes, a young woman named Veronica was introducing herself to me and she bought my husband and I a round of tequila shots. I had no idea that this was our last night of normalcy, but I’m so grateful that it was so wonderful.
Five days later, Broadway shut down, leaving my husband with no place to work having worked there for 25 years. Two days after that all the restaurants in New York City were closed. Two days later, my other (non-restaurant) job laid me off. On March 16th my diary entry was very short: “Hi. Are we all gonna die?” And here we are, one year later with a lot of the same concerns. Broadway is still closed. I work part-time at my restaurant while hoping my other job will eventually find room for me to return. Its still scary, but not like it was when 1000 people a day were dying in New York.
A lot has changed since March 8, 2020. Twelve months ago, there was no immediate hope for a vaccine, but I’m happy to say that I have been fully vaccinated as of three days ago. One year ago, we thought stocking up on our groceries meant an extra loaf of bread and some canned beans, but now we can go to the grocery store, we just wear two masks while doing it. Time has given us a new perspective on what this pandemic can do to us. Over 500,000 people in our country have died of Covid since that night I had cocktails and fried food in a restaurant. It’s been a long, hard year for all of us, but for the family members of those who have been lost, it’s been way harder. Sure, I miss eating out. I hate that my glasses fog up because of my mask. I long to travel again and be able to socialize with friends like I did 365 days ago. But all of those inconveniences pale in comparison to what others have suffered through. I am incredibly grateful to be healthy and that we have had enough money to get through this last year. It may have been boring and tedious staying inside for months at a time, but I’m here.
If we look at how much has happened over the last year, imagine how much more will happen in the next twelve months. Maybe by March 8th, 2022, we will be looking at Covid as a terrible chapter that is complexly behind us and we will all be celebrating with a brand new version of he Roaring Twenties. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait all the way until 2022. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And as soon as we reach that light you will find me sitting at the bar of Sugar Freak, drinking a spicy margarita and talking to whoever happens to be sitting next to me.