When I wrote my first Beshert piece, it was during happier, more carefree times. I’d just met my bestie after living in the apartment above hers for a lonely year. And then came COVID-19.
When Washington, D.C. went into lockdown, we decided that she’d quarantine with my family. We both worked from home and made our own hours. Every afternoon, like Lucy and Ethel, we sat on my blue velvet couch and screamed at the TV, a pair of middle-aged women cracking jokes through our fear as we watched the world spin out of control. It was like watching a never-ending apocalyptic movie. We weren’t glamorous, nor camera-ready. We skipped social niceties like getting seriously dressed. We never knew what day of the week it was because we had nowhere to go but the couch.
We knew we’d watched too much Nicole and Wolf and Chuck when a friend of hers suggested that she stop watching the news and “create a routine.” She meant Zoom yoga and book groups. I was highly offended by this. We HAD a routine: coffee, couch, cable, commentary. Other people could watch YouTube sourdough tutorials while we watched The Situation Room and discussed where to score toilet paper, sanitizer and masks we could breathe through.
The couch telethon ended when virtual school began for my teenage son. Walking around like Ninjas, afraid to make a sound, we finally had to turn off the TV. Virtual school didn’t even want me around. “Who’s that homeless lady?” a kid on the screen asked, as I was tiptoeing out of the kitchen in my jammies one morning.
Right before Thanksgiving, my husband and son came down with COVID. My bestie and I zigzagged in dread to the local firehouse to be tested. We both tested negative and spent two weeks missing each other in quarantine one floor apart, texting back and forth. (As it turned out, I had it, too.)
We survived the pandemic, election, impeachment, insurrection. We discussed beliefs and shared thoughts on life and the afterlife. I learned a lot of wonderful Yiddish words from her. My favorite is lakhn (laughter). She also taught me several others, but this nice Catholic girl can’t repeat them!
For us, like so many, the sorrow and pain of 2020 co-existed with flickers of joy. Babies were born, laughter erupted and love grew, silver linings in the darkness.
Our friendship was one of them. As fast-tracked as the COVID vaccine, it evolved into a deep, rich admiration and love for one another. There are moments of this year I will miss; the simplicity of being in quarantine and really listening and talking and enjoying each other.
The timing of our meeting was beshert. Without COVID, it would have taken years to grow so close. And we might not have had years—because my family is about to move. Forever beshert besties, only now a metro ride away.
Kat Akcakanat is a Washington, DC writer, whose blog, “Out of My Head!” chronicles the cornucopia of characters in our nation’s capital. A former art and drama teacher, she is married to her beshert, Bora. They have four children and a grandchild on the way. Follow her on Twitter @KAkcakanat.