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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Covid Firsts: What You've Done For The First Time Ever

So, there was your first kiss, your first day of school, your first job. The list of lifetime firsts--and, at my age, there are a heap--has as many possibilities as, I don't know, the thousands of books in your city's main library or the number of French restaurants in the whole of France.

So, I've been thinking about the firsts during this pandemic and the hours and hours we've spent, at home, often alone or with one other person. Like many women, this was the first time I've ever colored my hair. I couldn't imagine the mess I'd make, the choice of a wrong color, or literally frying my hair, ruining it for at least a year. But when push came to shove--when the collage of red, gray, almost orange looked like Jason Pollack gone mad (Wasn't he mad?), I took things into my own hands.

Thus began the quizzes on any number of websites: What color is your hair? Your eyes? When is the last time you colored your hair? Did you do it yourself? Or did you go to a salon? What services have you had in the last year? How much gray do you have? And on and on.

By the end of the quiz, YOUR color concocted just for you is there on the computer screen. The model is, well, a model, and you have visions of looking just like her with your new hair color. Ha!

My color turned out great, except for the stubborn gray that insisted on sticking around. If salons stay closed much longer, I may just save a bundle and play stylist.

It dawned on me this afternoon that a second first for me during this epidemic is watching television in the middle of the afternoon. I know accomplished, engaged women (and men) NEVER park themselves on a couch in front of a TV and take in a movie or afternoon game show or, oh, my, a soap.

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The first time I turned down the lights and turned on the TV in early afternoon, I felt guilty for "wasting my time" when I could have been doing something more constructive like washing the kitchen floor or weeding in the garden. But I'd found my escape series in "Homeland" and used my afternoon sessions as a way to keep ploughing through the eight years of the show that I'd missed. Yes, I came a bit late to the party, but you know, "Better late than . . ."

A dear friend of mine had a first of her own, a first more profound than any of mine. She'd always considered herself a "loner" who didn't really need others to keep her happy and involved. Sure, she has friends and, more importantly, classes that she teachers (Well, those classes are moving to Zoom. What else?), but this forced sheltering in place showed her for the first time in her more than six decades on this planet that she really needs people--needs them for inspiration, as students, and, most importantly, as receivers of her generous hugs--real hugs, not the virtual kind.

If there are upsides to this pandemic, this is one of them.

Maybe you walked two miles for the first time. Perhaps you learned to cook. (Well, me? Not so much). Maybe you started learning a language on one of the many online programs. Or maybe you stopped moaning about the state of affairs, donned a mask, plastic gloves, and volunteered at a local food bank. (Hint, hint to my dear husband.)

"Every cloud has a silver lining." "Every sour has its sweet." (I made that one up.) "Bitter pills have blessed effects." I don't think my mother used the word blessed; she wasn't the god-fearing type. But she did have her favorite saying whenever things got tough--a saying that I pull on my son every once in a while and one I try to remember for myself.

"When one door closes, another door opens."

Here's hoping that that door opens soon!



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