One year into Covid and it has been a pretty terrible year.
Nearly 3 million deaths worldwide, businesses and lives destroyed or severely disrupted. It will take a decade to dig ourselves out of this disaster.
There is, however, a small bright spot amidst the darkness.
Our lives have been changed, and in some small way, for the better, even if that is hard to believe.
Like Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we have been forced to look at our misspent past and realized, before it is too late, that we can change.
For the past 30 years, or more, my wife and I have pretty much lived on an airplane. Our business demanded it, so we believed; demanded personal appearances, no matter where in the world. So, at the drop of a hat we would be off to spend a month in Kenya or Argentina or Australia or Tennessee for that matter— anywhere really, where there was a deal to be done.
We accumulated millions of frequent flier miles. We had gold card status with many airlines and hotels (because in the field we lived in hotels). And rental cars. And restaurants. Lisa, my wife, was on a first name basis with the ground staff of Virgin, BA and Delta. She knew about their families, their sister who was getting a divorce, their dog. We saw them more often than we saw our friends or family.
Just prior to lockdown, we had spent a month in LA, a month in Kentucky, Wisconsin and Ohio — working. The week before Covid hit, we flew to Amsterdam for a four hour business meeting with a prospective new client. This, we saw as perfectly normal.
Then, Covid. The whole world closed down. There were no more airlines, no more hotels, no more restaurants, and for a while, no more work.
We were lucky.
We were able to transit our entire business to Zoom.
Now, the funny thing is Zoom preceded Covid, but who used it? Even when we were contemplating the trip to Amsterdam, someone had suggested we could just do it as a video conference call.
“Oh no!” I said (idiot that I am), “It’s not the same experience. Do you want this deal or not?”
Four months of dead in the water and we tried Zoom.
In fact, it worked better than in person, for that matter, because everyone is in the front row all the time.
For nine months, from March 8th to December 8, we did not leave our Manhattan apartment. Fifth Avenue was like a bad zombie movie. The streets were empty, the storefronts boarded up.
All the reasons for living in Midtown Manhattan suddenly were gone. No more Michelin star restaurants, no more designer clothing stores on Fifth Avenue. No more theater. No more first run movies. No more anything for that matter. No more even going for walks in the city.
We isolated indoors.
Like everyone else, we wiped down the newspapers and the grocieries that Fresh Direct delivered weekly.
Nine months of never going outside.
In December, we decided to take a risk and fly one way to the UK, gloved and double masked, awash in hand sanitizer; to Britain where we have a second home in a tiny village (population 92) in the English countryside.
The place is like a set for a BBC period drama, except it is real.
Along with rolling green hills, sheep, cows, dogs and friendly neighbors, and village life we have something else — BT Broadband and a mind boggling 1.47 gigabit connection.
Now we are growing our own vegetables.
We can take long walks in the countryside and never see a car. We take the dogs. We occasionally see another person. Occasionally. In Manhattan we would go for a walk in Central Park and see about a million other people doing the same thing.
We even have a pheasant who has moved into our garden who practically eats out of your hand.
We’ve all had the Astra Zeneca jab (as they call vaccinations here), all courtesy of the incredibly well organized NHS.
The Pandemic, at least from here, seems to be winding down. Friends in NY say that restaurants are starting to open. People are returning.
But we are not going back.
And we are not getting on a plane again, at least not for a long time.
Covid has changed our lives, and in some small way, for the better.
It provided an opportunity to stop, to take a pause, to step back and take a look at how we were living our lives; like Scrooge’s visit by the ghost of Christmases past, present and future.
Going forward, we will live a different life.
As Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us, everyone.”