Sara Alexander: Expiration Date

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Pandemic habits and behaviors are fading, and Sara Alexander is pining for some of the good stuff that’s left behind.

The date stamped on this package of yeast says April 2022. And I already know that I won’t have time to use it before it expires. Throw away yeast? Two years ago it was like gold, and we spent lots of time talking excitedly about who had some, and where did you find it? and do you have enough to give me any?

All of which makes me think about time. Yes, “time”…as in free time, downtime, me time, too much time…time to bake. It is sliding away, or it has already slid away, its departure much more gradual than its sudden arrival mid-March, 2020.

Although I hadn’t baked bread in decades I entered the complicated world of yeast baking and I wasn’t alone. While I was trying to get my challah loaves to rise, another friend was babysitting her sourdough starter, another perfecting millet bread, another trying to make corn muffins healthier. We shared stories and loaves. It was all wonderful; even the flat, misshapen, slightly over- and under- baked ones. They were gifts of love and they all got better with time. We had so much of it.

But now time is slipping away, while a lot of other things are coming back, and I am less excited than I thought I’d be.

A few weeks ago I finally got to eat at my newly re-opened favorite Chinese restaurant, my ‘home away from home’ and it is true, the Hot and Sour Soup tasted shockingly delicious; fresh from the kitchen, with that “je-ne-sais-quoi” that food has when it hasn’t taken a long car ride in a plastic tub. And there was my dear friend Rob, right across the table from me. How lovely! No hats, no scarves, no parkas, no huddling up to propane heaters.

But I miss feeling like we were all comrades in the same war. It was as much a war against isolation, loneliness and boredom, as it was a war against the death, disease and economic ruin of COVID.

For sure there is much I love about the return of some of the more “normal” parts of life. But I miss having all that time on my hands. And I miss all the wonderful things we got to do to fill it up.

With a Perspective, I am Sara Alexander.

Sara Alexander is a therapist, writer and filmmaker who lives in San Francisco and Graton.

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