What about after?

After the pandemic recedes, no one believes we will return to normal. But the question is, what will be different? Is hand shaking a courtesy of the past? Will people with colds wear masks from here on out? Will we treat our homeless population with more dedicated resources, since if the Mayor of LA could find them 600 beds in the middle of a pandemic, surely he can later — when the homeless are left with only their own set of catastrophic conditions?

Today, standing at the counter eating a grapefruit that had withered in the fridge for weeks, I thought: this, this change will come with me. A withered grapefruit that I would have thrown out without a second thought once upon a time turned out to be delicious.

Underneath its toughened top, lay the most succulent wedges of citrusy goodness.

I like to think that after this weird and trying episode we will be better somehow. More inclined to deprive ourselves in service of the greater good, less wasteful, less eager to go shopping, and more kind to the cashiers and phlebotomists and mail carriers in our lives.

I did listen to the podcast that Grace recommended. It was moving and provocative, featuring an interview with the author of a book called, “Die Wise.”

To be truthful, I need to listen again to really let it in. But anything besides Pod Save America or Gaslit Nation is good these days. My consumption of news has dropped precipitously in service of mental health, she said about to go watch Nicolle Wallace.

What behaviors or ideas do you think might stick when this crisis is over? Or, maybe the better question is, what do you hope will stick?

20 thoughts on “What about after?

  1. Nancy

    Dee, this is so good and rich! Sadly I know some who I don’t believe will change much at all. I hope I will not be among them, but I know how hard sustained change is. You reminded me of my old Tupperware grapefruit section-cutter. I think that made the move, as it worked so well! Is that your virtual Seder plate? Love it! I’m glad you shared Grace’s link here, reminding me to get back to it. xo

    1. deemallon Post author

      Yes that was my Seder plate. It was a delightful experience. Not just the prayers and old, old stories, but the family stuff: ‘my grandfather would lie down for the entire time’, or, ‘this is when we all pounded the table’, and ‘Jews are very opinionated.’ My favorite food part was eating a Carr’s cracker sandwich with horseradish and a honey/nut mixture.

  2. Joanne

    I’ve been looking at a can of artichoke heartS in the pantry found as I was taking inventory of the contents. Use by date is 2018 and I and seriously thinking of opening the can and seeing if things inside are edible. I would not usually. I was raised to save things food and money. Never using all of anything keeping some back. Food insecurity of grand parents and their son. I think I might be worse after this not better.i enjoyed seeing your compost should have bought some radishes

    1. deemallon Post author

      My mother’s depression experiences made her a little wanton. Not really. She was a good cook and used ingredients wisely. But she told me once that she decided early on to not worry about what she spent on food and was often heard saying, “if in doubt, throw it out.” I maintain that stance for meat.

      1. Liz A

        ugh … my mom’s mantra was “when in doubt, trim the questionable stuff off … or if it’s meat, rub salt on it” … have you read Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone? … more of the same

        one time, as my mom rubbed salt into a raw turkey that was waaaaay past safe, I said, “I’m sorry Mom, but we’re not eating that”

        1. deemallon Post author

          Wow. Really? I guess you have the tendency to waste on one side and the willingness to get sick on the other.

  3. Tina

    I can’t imagine things going back to everything being the same. I’m thinking travel will see the most change. I crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific on the old passenger liners which were amazing experiences but taking a cruise .. never!! Would not have before but now I know for sure.

  4. grace

    i hope that enough people saw the News that the Air and Waterways quickly became cleaner in response to the decrease in human “enterprise” IN SO SHORT A TIME
    i hope that enough people became acutely aware of how fragile the structure of a lifestyle is,
    how vulnerable.
    I hope that we take away an awareness for what we take for granted.
    i hope enough have seen the difference between need and want, what truly
    feeds their well being.
    I love your grapefruit.

    1. deemallon Post author

      I hope those things too. And I hope the people rise up and vote out all the corrupt politicians who would have it otherwise.

  5. Marti

    What I hope will stick is that kindness remains, that it not be the fashion of the moment and by this, let me explain:

    After 9/11, for a time, kindness prevailed, people were courteous, helpful, but over time, we got on with our lives, self-absorbed. When the economy tanked in 2008, many were hurting and we rose in generosity and kindness but again, over time, we pulled back, inward, nuclear families, etc.

    These past four dystopian years, well I don’t need to flesh this out… and we come to today: This time so different because what we are facing, WE ALL ARE FACING, this pandemic spares no one. We will recover but it will not be easy nor will it be life as we have known it.

    What I want more than anything is for kindness to grab hold like velcro, that we continue to value the sacrifice, caring, generosity and dignity of all who have put their all to aiding and helping in the many hundreds of ways that we have witnessed; that we continue to look to see how we can help, how we can aid, give solace, comfort, love, encouragement; that we continue to open our hearts to THE HELPERs, who came in all definitions and professions, that we acknowledge their worth.

    See when my parents came to America, sailing into the harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty, arm raised high, holding the torch of hope and possibility, they did not see a cold statue, they did not see her arm raised high with torch. To their eyes, she was a symbol with arms opened wide, saying, Welcome, you are needed, you are valued and this they felt , all their lives in this country, through the support and kindness of many people who helped, valued and respected them…My parents- my Mother a homemaker, my Father, a janitor, valued and respected… I want to believe and live in their America…

    1. deemallon Post author

      I wonder how long this appreciation for the workers of the world will hold. And medical professionals? They say they’re just doing they’re jobs. I say they’re rock stars.

  6. Liz A

    I hope we will remember what we are capable of … whether it be kindness toward each other or, more existentially, caring for our fragile earth

  7. ravenandsparrow

    I hope that the rotten parts of our society will be exposed for what they are, allowing love and kindness for each other and our planet to blossom. Every day we see the greedy try to exploit and manipulate the fearful into preserving their privilege and power, subverting the true beauty of the American idea: equality for everyone and the sanctity of human rights. May the pause we have been forced to take help us see that the way forward must include everyone.

  8. Joanne

    I have been humbled to read the words in the comments. I can only HOPE that we come out of this better for the experience of it.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Me too. It’s certain we will be changed but you’re right to wonder if it’ll be for the better. Just as Marti was right to wonder, for how long?


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