By: Kathleen & Caroline McCown
Kathleen is a Communications Consultant. She is a former Director of Public Affairs for a Fortune 500 corporation and the recipient of several awards for excellence in communication. She has served on the Boards of the Pound Ridge Library and St. Luke's School.
In time, the Covid crisis will pass. Life will find a new rhythm. But we will never forget the fear, the isolation, the loss. We will never forget ventilators, face masks, hand sanitizers, frontline heroes, Andrew Cuomo’s briefings that became must see tv. We will always remember staying in... to stay out of the hospital.
Living together again has been a once-in-a-lifetime gift. When else would my millennial children settle back into the rooms of their childhood for more than a weekend or brief holiday visit? Covid returned all of us to the comfort and safety of Pound Ridge. We picked up from where we left off, before the children departed home. It was this mother’s dream.
Our home is open-armed in accommodating our needs – space for working, for working out and “vegging out,” for reading and writing, for cooking with and for each other. Space to Zoom. Space for Jack’s wonderful dog, Taz, to run free. Most important, the house holds us close. Days are filled with work commitments, home projects, checking in on family and friends, keeping up with Covid news. In the evenings we come together for dinners that last longer than the meal. We indulge in every dinner table talk taboo. We argue about politics and religion. We are presumptive and pepper each other with personal questions. We laugh with and, yes, at each other.
While the world closed down to Covid, in Pound Ridge nature opened up. ‘Going out’ once meant enjoying a cappuccino at Kitchen Table, dining at The Inn at Pound Ridge, shopping on Elm Street in New Canaan, catching a film at The Bedford Playhouse, racing to the City. Now, ‘going out’ means a walk or a drive.
First the forsythia woke up, then the daffodils, finally the deciduous trees. Black branches against gray skies receded behind masses of green against blue. The two lane roads that tie Westchester and Fairfield towns together in our neck of the woods, invited us to come out. And so we did. We rode by old haunts, walked familiar trails, discovered new ones. From the horse farms of Bedford and the openness of Pound Ridge to the more cultivated streets of New Canaan, all roads boast beauty. Without the usual demands of time and commitments we traverse those roads slowly, thoughtfully. We feel them as they curve, arch upward and relax down. Surprises reward us. “Look – a fox!” “Did you see the hawk?” “Turkeys!” “I never noticed that cottage tucked back by the pond.” “I never noticed the pond!”
By looking outward, we looked inward. So much of what we see – how each of us looks at the world, how each of us determines what’s of value – is through the lense of living here. Appreciation of nature, community, family – all largely honed by our life in Pound Ridge.
Covid has taken many of the world’s freedoms, but at home it gives us time. Time for my husband and I to be with our newly adult children before they’re absorbed by families of their own. Time to see them as grown-ups against vivid recollections of them at home growing up. Time to appreciate all of it.
Months later...still stuck in Pound Ridge. No trips back to Philly. Travel entails exposure to potential infection that could put my virus-vulnerable family at risk. A long weekend in Philly, disregarding expert advice to stay put, could mean weeks of solitary confinement. So, for the sake of my sanity, frontline workers, Dr. Fauci, and my mom, I remain at home, and learn to live a new life of Covid confinement.
Pre-Covid, my morning routine consisted of ‘getting cute’ (cue: blow drying hair; applying mascara and gloss; dressing in whatever imbued my psyche with confidence) before buying an overpriced oat milk latte and embarking on a walking commute from my hotel to my client’s offices. Now, at home, my morning routine consists of brushing my teeth (always), brushing my hair (usually), changing into non-sleeping sweatpants (sometimes), and descending the stairs to drink Keurig coffee and watch Morning Joe with my pajama clad dad (always).
Pre-Covid, socializing consisted of going out with friends to explore the cities that we were lucky to share. In Covid confinement, socializing consists of Zoom, Facetime, jackbox.tv, and joint NYTimes crossword sessions.
And most of all, pre-Covid, staying in touch with family meant texts and calls to catch up on each other’s news. In the omnipresence of Covid confinement, my family’s news is my news too, and visa versa. For a long time, we saw only each other in person, everyone else on screen.
My life at home is:
I only half-joke that it can be sometimes suffocating. The reality is that coming home to my family in Pound Ridge is some kind of wonderful.
One activity I’ll never forget is enduring a 9+ hour Godfather movie marathon in one protracted sitting to satisfy my mom’s desire for me and my brother to be sufficiently versed in cinema classics. When the final closing credits rolled, my mom looked at me and asked, “Ladybug, wouldn’t you like some buttered noodles?” She gave me a hug and every bit of my twenty-five-year-old independence melted in her embrace. I couldn’t help thinking – ‘just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in’.
It’s impossible to know now what the cost of being pulled back will be. When the virus ripped through the fabric of life, I was extremely fortunate that my family pulled me back, to be all together, in Pound Ridge. Our home is perfect for shelter-in-place. I know I’ll be forever thankful for all of it.
I also know that I can’t wait to get back to the life I put on hold. I can’t wait to say “Yes” again...but not to my mom...to my life – the one I was just beginning.