Staying Safe, Healthy and Sane and Seeing Beauty in the World

Photo by Peter Rosenstein

As a senior living alone in DC this crisis brings with it some interesting thoughts and feelings. One is how important it is to remain connected to friends, and second to have a schedule to keep my sanity and remain positive. I have found taking walks around DC, keeping safe social distance from others, is wonderful. I take pictures of the incredible array of spring flowers to remind me there is still beauty in the world and life goes on despite this pandemic.

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

Friends know in normal times I am up each day at 6:30 am and start my day at Java House for coffee. Our coffee group has been meeting for over twenty years, rain or shine for whoever is in town, except Thanksgiving and Christmas when Java is closed. There are about twenty-five of us each occasionally bringing friends. Inside in winter the rest of the year on the patio. Bebee, the mainstay of the Java staff, knows what each of us drinks and eats and as soon as she sees us we are served. For me it has become family.

While not a very diverse group, all are liberal Democrats, we do argue politics and everything else. Some are sports fanatics others into the theater. Over the twenty years the group has aged but we try to invite newbies and there are a fair number of youngsters (I consider youngsters anyone from twenty-one to forty-five) to join us. Some in the group work for the State Department, some like me had government and non-profit experience, two former members of Congress, a Dean at American University, some techies and of course some lawyers one a former Solicitor General and another a Cabinet Secretary.  As you can imagine it is a group with a lot of opinions and no one is hesitant to voice theirs. A few years ago someone wrote on YELP “I love Java House in the mornings except for Peter Rosenstein and his bloviating pensioners”. We took offense only at the term pensioners as many in the group were still working full time. We accepted bloviating which at times is appropriate. 

So when Covid-19 arrived in DC and Java House was limited to take-out coffee and bagels, it was tough.  Then one of our group set up a Zoom Kaffeklatch each morning which has been a godsend for me during this stressful time. I can walk to Java at 7:30am, get my coffee to go, and then get on zoom for an hour and chat with everyone. We have had guests join us from as far away as Mexico and Paris. Occasionally inviting an expert on some topic to join us.  It has been the social outlet I need. Some have used zoom for virtual cocktail hours and dinners. Friends did a virtual Passover Seder. I had a zoom appointment with my dermatologist. 

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

For me having a schedule has been important. It has included exercise hours, and regular mealtimes now that meals have become solo events usually in front of the TV. I have tried to keep to a healthy diet but cheated recently with ice cream.  I am always impressed how the cookie section of my local Safeway is always restocked but have stayed away from it thus far. By-the-way can’t say thank-you enough to the great people working at Safeway and all the grocery stored in DC for their work during these difficult times. They are truly on the front lines along with our first responders; healthcare workers, police, EMS, and fire. My friends share pictures on FB of all the things they have baked but since the only kitchen appliance I am familiar with is a microwave I unfortunately have no pictures to share. 

The rest of my day is occupied with reading everything from The Georgetown Dish, New York Times, Washington Post and junk novels. Thanks to Kindle there are an endless supply of those. I spend too much time on FB and have called friends around the world some of whom I haven’t talked with in years. Remember we are all in this together. 

I continue to write my regular columns for the Washington Blade but now do them for free. It’s part of my donation to the Blade which is one of those small but crucial news sources. The Blade serves the LGBTQ+ community across the nation and I believe its survival is crucial.  As a founding board member of the Blade Foundation I urge anyone who can to make a small donation.

(Photo by: Peter Rosenstein)

It is my hope you are all finding a way to stay safe and healthy in both mind and body. Those of you with families, lovers or friends quarantined with you surely have all kinds of other things to do. My good friends are making sure their triplets are keeping up with their school work. 

Wherever you are it is important to check in with your neighbors by phone, email and any other way you can. We will get through this crisis if we stick together (just with that six foot separation and a mask) and just maybe it will bring a lasting understanding of the importance of community. Only together will we survive and thrive and I know we will.