Love And Loss In The Time of Corona

Jolie and family

Mara and I spoke for almost four hours yesterday. Probably more than we’ve amassed in 2020 collectively. The girls, who wake up at hours that can qualify as decent and sometimes lunchtime, have been working their ariels in our backyard. We found a bird’s nest back there. A bird’s nest for God sake. There are eggs that could hatch any day now. Tiny little things. None of us had any idea they were there.

That was a good day. They’re not all so good.

The world’s turned upside down. You surely don’t need me to tell you. It’s going to feel a little different to everyone. There will be stress. Global anxiety. A sense of daily unfulfillment so permeating it’s palpable. There will be dust bunnies the size of tumbleweed (I have pictures). And there will be an influx of at home hair dye kits like the industry has never seen. There is so much happening. There is so little we can control.

Yes. We can help – there are many ways. Restaurants making beautiful gestures to keep one another afloat (looking at you, Scopa, Mozza, Sweetgreen), Help Feed the Frontline LA, Chef Brooke Williamson, so many doing so much good.  Big Sunday! My favorite.  Philanthropy is seeping in through the cracks, in ways that always, without fail, lump up my throat.

Empty parks during corona lockdown

But I want to know how you guys are doing.

I am a little dying to know how you guys are doing.

I’m such a mixed bag of emotions – it’s an emotionally schizophrenic time. I’m elated because we’re healthy – thank God we’re healthy. So far, we’re healthy. Today we are healthy.

I’m disturbed because my sister has to wave hello from her car and my parents miss their grandchildren like you’d miss a limb, how long is this going to go on again? I have an 8th grader who won’t get to graduate middle school and a 5th grader who will miss graduating elementary. They’re hurting. They have every right to be hurting.

Are you vacillating between the odd elation of a schedule blown up and the paralyzing fear that normal may never make a full recovery? Or are you fearing maybe it will? And maybe change was something uninvited but unveiled something unexpectedly important in your personal path? Are you savouring solitude like you’ve never been able before, or are you mourning it’s loss like a meth addict in denial? Are you terrified because we’re all living in some sci fi thriller and honestly you never cared for sci fi anyway? Like, at all?

Churches closed during corona lockdown

Where are you? Where are you in this?

I can’t muse the tang of lemongrass like I’m used to with you guys. Or wax the woodsy waft of mesquite or lavish the lavender sprig in a spring cocktail. There is so much loss in this epically strange time. So much uncertainty and so much impossible. And I miss this. I miss tossing texture and taste your way and hoping you’ll feel it on your tongue. I miss sharing life’s flavour.

I hope you are clinking quarantinis and rezooming relationships that maybe were on hiatus for no reason other than the busyness of life. I hope you are the reason Amazon is sold out of 1000-piece puzzles and I hope you thought well when you selected the people you’d choose to be stranded on a desert island with (who knew that wasn’t a hypothetical?). I am thinking of you all.  I am hoping you forgive me for flying well off the grid today. As part of me is hoping I’ll find you there too. Closer than six feet. Where we can pretend.

Be well, friends. Please. Let me hear from you here in the comments section below.

Author Bio:

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.

Park and Church images by Queven from Pixabay

54 Comments

  1. As always, your beautifully crafted words lift my spirit Jolie! It’s definitely a weird time. I do enjoy the social distancing, maybe a little bit too much..? and everyday is reminder of how truly blessed, lucky and privileged I am in so many ways. Stay well and let those grays come on out! With gusto! ❤️

  2. I am the reason Amazon is sold out of puzzles! This is such an insane time to live through, and I think a friend of mine in London said it best: “It helps me so much to know you’re going through all this too.” Every time I read something that’s exactly how I feel, I feel less alone. Thank you Jolie!

  3. My very favorite review …. and I follow you religiously. Your humanism which is transparent even in your enthusiasm for vintage general stores and jelly glass vases finally is all apparent in your love for family.

  4. What a tender rumination of today’s times. We miss seeing your usual foodie flair, but how nice it is to hear your voice on other matters in life. Which for us represents still our feelings at week four: we’re soaking in the slowness and appreciating the time and mind that’s unlocked for new things, and the strange intensity of old familiar routines (Ginger’s Ice Cream is one of the familiar routines I appreciate most, as far as intensity goes). Another four weeks? We’ll do our best. Which makes it all the more important to focus on the potential–connecting however possible with people, new projects, and (to continue a happy collection of “p” words) expanding our personal wells of patience. When this is behind us, we’ll have so much to be grateful for. Sending you and your family much love!

  5. I am a religious follower. This is my favorite review. Your heartfelt love of nature vintage and aluminum dishes conveys your unaffected nature. You are transparent but this article conveys your true heart.

  6. There it is. Your personalized stamp. Your thoughts revealed. No better questions have been asked since the days before sheltering. Since the only payment you requested for the heaping plateful of *real* I just ingested is an update, we are fine. We are. Things are different. Ups. Downs. Sidewayses (?). It didn’t feel like our family unit had any Covid-sized cracks until Week Four. And that’s where we are. Surprised to find what lacks bother us. And please and which ones don’t. And I certainly never imagined falling back in love with Little Debbie products again (upside? downside?). But I’m grateful for your words and hope that – unlike quilted Downy and my Oatmeal Creme Pies – they will remain in ample supply.

  7. Yes, to all of it. I’m a mixed bag of it all – feeling it all at once, or a little more of this or that at any given moment. I’m working virtually and partially, and partially playing in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. I’m reconnecting with friends and family over the internet in a way we couldn’t find the time to previously. I feel stuck. I feel safe. I want to run and play. It’s cold though. I want to meander grocery store aisles as part of my favorite pastime, but that’s unsafe right now. I want to learn EVERYTHING. I’ve signed myself up for many, many courses. Self-help. Herbalism. Daily yoga. Breathwork. Lymphatic massage -mmmmm. It’s good. I’m making my old Thai favorites in this tiny kitchen that’s not mine at all. Sticky Rice of Grand Central Market still holds my fondest food memories, but without being able to go there myself for a slew of reasons, we’re recreating those foods that dance on our tastebuds all on our own. There are so many opportunities. SO many reasons to grieve. So many people I wonder about. I want to know everything about their days – how is everyone handling this? How can I help? I know people need help. I feel like my hands are tied. But, then I spend hours on Instagram and I see the creativity and beauty of our humanity. One of my favorite online therapists (plugging Dr. Nicole LePera – The Holistic Psychologist) has created a quick little social-support system of people sending those in need a pizza dinner. I just … what a time to be alive. To experience ONE THING the whole world is experiencing together, all at once. Something that’s way, way, way bigger than us all. And there, I find peace. Because it’s always been the truth, that we don’t have control. We only have our own actions and perceptions to push and pull. The rest, it’s outta our hands. How humbling. It brings me comfort. I don’t have to worry about it all after all. What will be, will be. Love you all. Wishing you peace and health in all the ways.

  8. How am I doing you ask? Well it’s 4:30p on a Monday and I thought, well, I might as well pour a glass of that leftover champagne from our Easter breakfast yesterday so it doesn’t go to waste. Because, you know, it’s Monday at 4:30p and why not? I HAVE NO WHERE TO BE 😭 tomorrow AM. Or the next day, or the next day. This is not a good thing. Neither is the fact I am on my like 10th loaf of homemade bread. In the oven right now. I can’t stop making bread products. Before the pandemic I had never made bread one day in my life. Now I have made homemade bread, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, and have more on the list. Do we see where this is going? Yes, straight to my waistline. But I wouldn’t know because my laundry each week consists of leggings, sweatpants and pajama pants. Buttons not involved. Nor zippers. But other than the 4:30pm Monday bubbly and bread-making habit I am doing my best to find the positives in every day. The time with my tween and teen? HUGE gift. HUGE. Please don’t say that with a Trump accent. I might lose it. 😭 Yet it is huge. I am cherishing this time with them. The good, the bad and the tik-tok-y. All of it. Awesomeness. The family time? Awesomeness. Time to do SO many 1000 piece puzzles that I have learned not all puzzles are created equal. The one I am doing now? So hard I almost given up on it. But then I find ONE more piece, and I keep going. Every weekend our family of 4 has Puerta Backyarda parties. And we pretend it’s vacation and it’s hysterical and awesome. Last weekend we gave my husband a haircut with a You Tube video tutorial and my daughter cleaned him up with the leaf blower and it was a terrible hair cut but we were all in tears from laughing so hard. So yes, overall, there are parts that are really awful. Most of all the virus, and death, and devastation, just so awful. My heart bleeds for all the people in so much pain. But for those of us that are lucky to still have jobs, the luxury to stay home, in a house where we can pay the bills and have food in our fridge, this is a time we will never forget in a sweet way. A very, very sweet quaran-crazy way. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts. Can’t wait until you and ALL of us are back on the road and traveling again!!!

  9. Looking at you and your beautiful family makes me feel a little better. It’s true we are all in this together. I long to see my children and grandchidren, but they are all doing fine and so am I, thank G-D. I know the next time I read one of your lovely articles, it will be a sunnier, happier time for us all. Thank you for your eloquent thoughts and stay well.

  10. So spot on, Jolie! Loved reading this & felt deeply connected to what you had to say. You have a beautiful way with words–filled with sincerity & genuineness. Thank you for your honesty, passion, and compassion. We are right there with you!

  11. My step mother died today, alone in a nursing home back East because no one could visit. I will be honest and say she was not my favorite person, but I am sad that we are in a world where anyone I know would die alone.
    Sobering.

    • Hi Jolie,
      I love your authenticity and flair for flavors and words! I hope everyone is taking the opportunity to cook new foods and dig out old forgotten family recipes and to find time to connect with friends. This too shall pass in time despite our having to say goodbye to a few of our childhood nostalgic restaurants and donut shops. Shout out to Nate N Al’s – if anyone has their actual sweet and sour cabbage recipe please send it to Jolie and a special thanks to Stan Berman for 55 years of delicious sweetness in Westwood… Stan’s Donuts is no more – Covid prompted him to retire earlier than he had initially planned…
      Please support our local restaurants and stay safe!

      • Unreal about Nate n Al’s. . if ever there was a Beverly Drive institution. Impossible to imagine that stretch of the triangle without it. Same goes for Stan’s in Westwood. Soon as we break Passover, we’re back to supporting our local restaurants as much and often as possible. I even hear some are delivering with a gratuitous toilet paper roll. Because, adorable.

  12. Thank you for summing up how I have been feeling in such an eloquent manner. Your writing offers a sense of relief during this unsettling and challenging time. Your words never disappoint.

  13. The graduations for the kids is really painful to me. So many fun, end of year, end of school, activities that are being missed. It is definitely a school year they will never forget! But, I am glad I have a crew home with me that I love and adore and we are trying to find ways to make the most of this all. So far, I think we are doing a good job. It shows we are happy to be with each other, and I love that, but I do miss others! Thank you for a beautifully written article!

  14. This was perfect timing Jolie after an Easter that didn’t feel like Easter without Grandma and cute outfits and amazing brunch! While I think I can handle the isolation, my 8th & 12th graders break my heart daily! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  15. Beautifully spoken words. All of them are so true. We can honestly relate with you, as we are ALL going through this together. I am so thankful and grateful to be spending more time with my family, even though at times it can be a bit stressful, if you know what I mean. My heart really goes out to those who are living alone. I hope that everyone remains strong and healthy and that this will all be over sooner than later. One of my favorite things to do that helps to cheer me up is to see the clever songs, sayings, and other brilliant creations that have come from some very talented folks during this challenging time. Humor can be so helpful and I appreciate those who keep trying to make us smile and laugh. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

  16. Amazing! You are such an amazing writer- and say what we all feel (in a much better way than I could). You may have to help Max with his college essay. Provided of course that he ever gets to go to college, or look at colleges, or go to high school, or leave the house…

  17. Missing you, your profound sense of humor, your girls, your huge smile. But this…. made it all just a bit better!

  18. This beautiful essay is the literary version of a big hug – and I absolutely felt it. Thank you. I needed that.

  19. Jolie you have such a beautiful spirit and when I grow up I want to be just like you.
    I thank you for all the kind words that you gave me in my time of need.

  20. This is beautiful. I was just saying to my husband this morning that this time , to me , feels like a gift. Time stands still only a few times in life. Sometimes it’s because of illness or death and even then you still aware that the noise there ( to me noise is the movement of everyone else- the buzz of everyone rushing to “arrive”). The whole world is forced to stay home and just “ be” and the noise is gone. Only once has that happened to me and it was with birth. With a new baby – there was no noise only life and love and birds nests in the back yard. Thank you for this piece

  21. You eloquently encompassed much of what I have been feeling . The elation of not having a structured Schedule with early morning school runs and afternoon pickups …and drops offs and pick ups again. But also the emptiness of not having clearly defined responsibilities . I guess in the end it doesn’t force me to confront more existential truths like what is each day truly about … waking up healthy … giving thanks for food and safety and being present to the moment as that’s all we know for certain . I guess the uncertainty has been most unsettling yet the certainty was always an illusion . Having to come to terms with this idea that we can only control our reactions to life’s happenings not life’s happenings is liberating once embraced . So I once again applaud Viktor Frankl and his infinite wisdom … our ultimate freedom is our choice how to react to each day … we do have a choice and we do have control over how we respond . Let us each respond with empathy and kindness and maybe some grace . This is what I will continue to work towards personally …

  22. Beautifully written! For most of us the world stands still and we are reminded everyday during #stayathome of all the things in life that we have taken for granted. I have been able to slow down and let my mind clear and it almost feels like a time when I was growing up. I hadn’t done a puzzle in 20 years. I do miss seeing friends but I think we have all learned to picked up phone and call instead of texting. There is something said for hearing your friends voice. I worry everyday about the hospital workers who are risking their own lives, working tirelessly around the clock, and falling ill with Coronavirus. Also thank you to the people on the frontlines keeping the world going while we sit home worrying.

  23. Thank you so much for your kind words Jolie. Dee Dee and I miss our family at the gym. That’s what we have become
    With love we share for each other.
    We’re all in God hands and must keep the Faith.

  24. Miss you and love you guys!!!!! Feeling you one hundred percent here!! We say hi to my sister while she stays in her car and we wave from the driveway. And my girls miss their grandparents like crazy!!! And graduation. So sad. But we are swimming in the pool on this gorgeous day and trying to count our blessings of health and happiness!

  25. This was so lovely yet so hard to read, and I SO feel you. Missing such simple pleasures like hugging my dad, and I never thought I would ever utter a statement like that. Thanks for keeping it real, like always!!

  26. Thank you for sharing your story, your truth in this post and on the phone. I am blessed to share and endure this experience (via phone and text) with you. I hope all reading this is as lucky to have someone checking in on them. It is so easy to feel lost after losing so much and a check in from a friend is everything right now.

    This has been such a hard time for all us. We all are experiencing so much loss and change at a rate and duration that has never been experienced. Your words bring comfort to me and to everyone who reads them. Thank you. We are all in this together and we need to hold each other up to get through to the other side… hopefully sooner than later.

    Glad we got to talk today. Looking forward to our next check in….

  27. Thanks for writing this thoughtful piece, Jolie! Much love from all of us at Big Sunday, and sorry for the late response. It’s been nonstop every day. I’m happy to hear from you, and that your family is generally safe and well. Sci-fi horror is a great way of putting it. Excited to see and the regulars when all of this blows over. Until then, take care of yourselves.

  28. As always, your authentic voice brings smiles, comfort, and reflection. Reading your post and the words of your followers remind me that we are all in this together and knowing that makes it doable, makes it human. Wishing you all good health, peace, and the strength to make it through to when we can all hug one another again.

  29. “Yay! We’re alive!” is a text we send around occasionally among friends groups to remind each other to be present and appreciative of what we have. Now more than ever. Thanks for the message and a reminder of the good.

  30. Jolie, your words always put a smile on my face. So glad to hear you and the family are well. I read a lovely letter Annie wrote to Toby(the dog) today that brought happy tears to my eyes. I miss Livonia life so much. Otherwise all’s well. I’m a grandma again to another beautiful girl, this time my son and his wife, but # 3 is due in August. Jordan and Alex are having a boy! Still teaching Silver Moon, although very differently now. I’m so looking forward to getting back in the classroom. No culmination for us either. So sad for your girls. Please send them my love, and a big crushing hug to you❣️Ellen

  31. It never occurred to me that reading your comments would connect me with so many exceptional humanistic voices. I now find myself isolated with the TV and IPhone. Reading the reaction your stellar expressions have on such a varied group of quality and varied people is somehow reassuring. Never stop spreading your thoughts insights and gifts

  32. All so true! A silver lining is helping our kids learn to cultivate happiness during a time of uncertainty and anxiety. That will serve them well in life!

  33. Thank you Jolie, you make me laugh and remind me that I’m in good company. I love knowing what you’ve been doing and that you found a birds nest in your yard. I can’t help but wonder if you’d have found it pre lockdown . So much of this has been difficult and heartbreaking. One of the things I’ve enjoyed is giving myself permission to move at a pace that feels better. I like discovering things and not rushing. I keep having the realization that I don’t have to rush off to this or that and it’s been such a relief.

  34. I love this article. Not just because of what it says or how you’ve even said it (which, as always, is strikingly poignant). It’s that you’ve said the “thing” and asked the questions that all of us are asking ourselves daily. From the tragic banality of wondering what the local, national and international death toll was today and how the brave healthcare workers keep at it everyday, to the ridiculous panic that comes with trying to understand how we could run out of wine on that Monday that felt like a Tuesday or was it a Thursday that felt like a Sunday? As someone alluded to above, we are living in a scary, bizarre, sometimes sweet shared and sustained experience unlike any other in my lifetime, at least. Thank you for writing what needed to be said and felt.

  35. It’s lovely the way you become so personal with your readers. Your writing appeals to the he senses with sensations that I have never experienced and probably never will. The most noticeable thing about your writing for me is that you seem to be a person son with whom one would want to be friends.

  36. Love the way you write! Your words reaching out from the page in a warm, authentic way- just like you. You summed it up perfectly- like a SciFi adventure and it’s one that’s too “in your face” for me.

    I feel for the girls and all those missing milestones right now. We are all eager to get back to normal but it doesn’t seem like that will be for awhile.

    I’ve never felt old until now, since I fall into that 65 and up group, I don’t plan on going anywhere soon. I am grateful for my health, for now & hope to hold on into the foreseeable future.

    Thank you for shouting out Big Sunday. I wasn’t familiar with them but looked them up & WOW are they amazing! As are you.

  37. “Tragic. Banality”…… that sharp two word phrase quoted from Fungabi reverberates with me. It encompasses exactly the “new normal “ we all are experiencing. He talks about checking casually the rising numbers of illness and deaths both nationally and internationally. Today as a rocket may launch … . man was stepped on for a on violent offense and his life was lost. It’s hideous and obscene. and crowds have taken to the streets. Thank God every life still matters. And because of that there is every reason to brace for the now and look forward to a better tomorrow.

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