Why don’t we stop fooling ourselves?
The game is over, over, over.
No good times, no bad times,
There’s no times at all,
just The New York Times
sitting on the windowsill,
near the flowers.
“Overs” has looped endlessly in my head for the past few weeks. The Simon & Garfunkel song seems to match the mood of resignation that hangs over life in quarantine.
I’m home on Long Island with family, and though I finished my courses, I planned to spend the last months of senior year back in Chicago with my friends. I was looking forward to lazy days by the lake and nights downtown. We planned to drive to New Orleans for spring break — a bona fide adventure — but as the Covid-19 outbreak spread and the news grew grim, the road trip dream died. Months of anticipation fizzled out and the reality of quiet domesticity set in.
But everyone is dealing with dashed plans and social isolation. Sure, I may feel wistful scrolling through old photos or looking at my calendar, but I have plenty to be grateful for. I have enough in the pantry to follow New York Times food writer Melissa Clark’s recipes and enough Lysol wipes to do the obligatory surface swipes. When I need to clear my head, I can take long walks outside or drive along the water. When I’m feeling silly, I can barge into my sister’s room and show her some TikToks. For the time being, everyone in the house is healthy. I feel incredibly lucky.
The other day, I joined a couple of friends on a group Zoom to make cocktails with a mixologist. Rachel Hillman, the assistant director of Northwestern Hillel, organized the virtual event as a way for seniors to get together. It was definitely bittersweet to toast one another with our citrusy liqueur concoctions over a video call, but it was nice to see everyone’s faces and learn something.
Although I’m no longer following syllabi for school, I’m trying to keep my mind somewhat alert by puncturing long, idle hours with the occasional educational activity. The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is offering free classes; I’m very excited to delve into the world of Jewish cooking and Ashkenazi history from the comfort of my bed.
Still, it seems impossible to create a routine that feels even remotely like the dizzyingly hectic days of shuffling between obligations at school. Time is so slippery now. I waited nearly two and a half hours with my mom to pick up meat for Passover. While she stood on the curb outside the butcher, I entertained myself by walking up and down the main village drag, peering into dark shop displays and soaking up some sun.
We made it home in time to make an almond flour cake and set up a few devices for our Zoom seder. After some technical difficulties, everyone patched in and we began reading from our digital Haggadah. My cousin conducted the seder with a comforting levity, ping-ponging passage assignments among family members on the “Brady Bunch”-esque grid of faces. The Haggadah included the traditional Nirtzah, which calls for “Next year in Jerusalem,” but the collective seder sentiment was that we hoped to be seated around my grandmother’s table next spring.
Paul Simon wrote “Overs” for the soundtrack of the iconic 1967 film “The Graduate.” Although it didn’t make the final cut, it does bring to mind a disaffected Dustin Hoffman lounging about as April turns to May and May to June. I can’t help wondering if and when I’ll get back to campus for graduation, or at least to say farewell to the people and places I’ve come to love, but now that I’ve eaten the bread of affliction, I’m waiting for the hydrangeas to bloom.
Amanda Gordon is a senior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.