Good news: my family is all vaccinated. Thank G-d. I feel like the fear is finally dissipating from my body and mind, we can all breathe and live without so much fear. For now. But life is getting back to some normalcy.

Good news: so I was thrilled when the nightclub my son runs in San Francisco finally opened for a live show. Fourteen months of black (no performances) and now the show goes on! Feinstein’s at the Nikko was open for business and I was dressed and out the door for a big outing. (I forgot how to dress-up! It took way too long to get ready!)

I live in the burbs so taking the train (BART) is my easy mode of transportation, as I ride home with my son where we debrief the night’s performance, such fun!

Bad news: probably like many big cities, ridership on trains have diminished during the pandemic with hardly anyone going into big city offices. The word on the street is that the homeless have taken over BART and sadly San Francisco has a big homeless population. But I wasn’t worried because the Dodgers were in town to play the Giants that day and most folks usually take BART to the game and that felt comforting that I’d be surrounded by some of my hometown Dodger fans. But to my surprise baseball fans chose to drive to the ballpark rather than ride in. My kids didn’t want me to take the train alone, but I’m my own person and I took the train, as I have hundreds of times before.

Good news: the train was almost empty and I could pick my seat.

Bad news: the train was almost empty with a handful of homeless clinging to their seats, looking in fear that someone might take their domain away from them. It was a sad sight. I felt no fear. I clung to my purse and watched the skyline views. After working in San Francisco for many years and riding BART five days a week, I was used to crowded, loud commutes, so this quiet emptiness was strange.

More bad news: nothing was as startling, shocking, unnerving and sad than getting off the train into the vibrant city that I attended college back in the 60s, and have lived in for the past 35 years, than to see the ghost town it has become.

More bad news: as I took the escalator up from the station to Powell Street—one of the busiest and most crowded streets in the city and where the cable cars run (Tony Bennet, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”)—and was greeted by the huge GAP store boarded up with a For Lease sign. It almost knocked me back down the escalator!

There were no cable cars, there were no people. 54% of San Francisco’s storefronts have closed due to Covid. The famed Cliff House, My China and Lefty O’Doul’s restaurants are gone.

Even more bad news: as I walked up Powell to Union Square, like Times Square in NY, it was empty. No shoppers carrying bags filled with purchased merchandise, no families out celebrating a bright sunny day, no food trucks hawking their hot dogs, no musicians on the streets to entertain, no tourists expressing their delight in the city. I found myself feeling as though I was wondering through an episode of the Twilight Zone. I looked around in disbelief. I was numb. I felt tears springing from my eyes. Where is everyone? Where is the vibrant city of San Francisco? Will it ever come back?

By the time I got to the Nikko, I was rattled. My son saw me from across the lobby and came up to me and asked, “Mom! What’s wrong? I told you not to take BART! Are you ok?”

I told him the train was fine but I was in shock over seeing the streets of San Francisco so bare, so empty, so dull, so sad. All he could say was, “I know.”

Now some good news: I was thoroughly entertained by a delightful married couple who were Broadway performers and presented a show about their journey of finding love on the Great White Hope. They sang their way through 60s, 70s and 80s music sharing love stories of famous musical composers whose marriages lasted and those who’s didn’t, but their music will last forever, as this couple believes their love will!

I knew I’d enjoy the show with the first song by Jarrod Spector telling the audience his love story with his musical partner and wife, Kelli Barrett: He sang: “She could have a tattoo, she could have a nose ring, she could be bald and it would be okay! But because she’s a shiksa, my mother cried when I told her it was love-at-first-sight!”

As we get back to living life, I’m sure there will be more good news/bad news days. So be the new normal.


Article by Author/s
Sandra Taradash
As a Baby Boomer Bubbe who still feels 18 but has four grand kids to prove this is the 21st Century, Sandra writes to leave a legacy for the next generations. Her belief that these precious kids need to know their cultural and family's past in order for them to live their best future is all the muse she needs. She has a Master's Degree in Psychology and Cross Cultural studies, has written a family history, personal memoir, has completed her first novel and is working on her second. She spent some of her best times as a national board member to Women of Reform Judaism and president of her Temple's chapter. She also worked for The J, the Jewish newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Area. Her Bubbe's journey to America from Russia, with a life of too many losses, is her source for her deep belief and love for Judaism and family. Sandra is proudly Californian born and bred. These days, when Sandra is not writing or spending time with her three children and grandchildren, she is a Home Chef for local families who don't have time to cook healthy, fresh meals. She creates weekly menus for the families to choose from, provides their ingredient list and then goes to the client's home and cooks the various dishes! Stories and food---SO Jewish!

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