The pandemic is far from over, but even as the latest COVID wave swells, there’s a palpable feeling of being on the other side: street festivals have returned, people are travelling, masks are more likely to be seen on the ground than on a face.
Cautiously we’ve been here before. False starts. But this summer, as even the tentative among us return to a sense of “normal,” there’s a purging of things we’ve held onto for the past two-plus years: goalie pads that never stopped a puck; a Frozen costume that never saw a Halloween; high heels that were never paraded at a party.
These are just some of the items recently listed for sale on Kijiji that remind us of time robbed, moments lost.
Portable baby crib
“Selling a Baby Bjorn play yard/travel crib in brand new condition. I bought this right before the pandemic in anticipation of future travel that never ended up happening and it ended up being completely unused.”
Zainab Kizilbash was planning a “babymoon” in the winter of 2020, a holiday with her husband and two young boys before little Aliana was to be born that June.
Jamaica was the destination. Abbas, then 3, had recently come home from daycare, mesmerized by tales from his teacher who hailed from the country and had pointed the island out on a globe. “He had just started to get a sense of the world,” says Kizilbash, “so he told us he really wanted to go to Jamaica and was describing this beautiful place.”
Kizilbash bought a portable crib in anticipation that her youngest, Hussain, could sleep in it on the trip and it could then be handed down to their third child. “We were really excited to take a babymoon, which we had never done before, just to kind of celebrate and enjoy being together as a family before (the baby) arrived.”
But then the virus brought an end to any beach vacation.
They broke it to Abbas gently, trying not to alarm him that the world had shut down: “We told him a lot of people are getting sick right now. We can’t go anywhere on a plane. He made us promise to him that we would go one day.”
So the portable crib sat in its carrying bag in a closet of their Markham home.
With a pediatrician husband working extra-long hours, two young children at home and a newborn, any idea of a “blissful” maternity leave vanished.
“So when I look at that crib,” says Kizilbash, a teacher, “it reminds me, in retrospect, how difficult (pandemic motherhood) was versus the idea I had in my mind before COVID started.”
But a full-circle moment came this past March after two hard years. The family took their first trip — to Montego Bay. They had an amazing time, made even better because Aliana could be part of it.
But she had outgrown the crib.
“Selling our white lacquered tulip style dining table. Super large and chic. It’s also uniquely narrow so it works in ‘complicated’ spaces. This table is like new, very lightly used. Pandemic meant no dinner parties:)”
When Simonee Chichester saw the large dining table in a Queen Street West store, she knew it was a perfect, not only for her newly renovated home but for the dinner parties she loves to throw.
“I was like, oh, it’s so narrow and long, this will fit 10 people around it.”
The filmmaker/director/yoga teacher and her director husband, who split their time between Toronto and Los Angeles, had turned their house into a triplex, renting out two apartments and taking the main floor — essentially “a glorified studio apartment” — for themselves.
After two years of renovations, they were finally ready for their first dinner party, scheduled for March 15, 2020.
“Then news was flying around and I said, I feel like we should cancel this dinner party,” Chichester recalls. “My husband’s like, ‘Really, should we?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I feel like everybody’s getting sick or something and maybe we’re going to be a–holes if we do it.’ And so I sent out an email saying, I think we’re going to postpone.
“Then the world just stopped.”
Socializing ceased. Chichester’s mom, who lives alone, came over for meals, but they ate at the kitchen counter.
“This pretty table just kind of sat there.”
Chichester and her husband rode out the pandemic in Toronto and came out the other end knowing they wanted to spend more time in L.A., and they weren’t cut out to be landlords. So they sold their house and are downsizing to a Victorian row house allowing them to come and go more freely.
At 93-inches long, the white table is just not going to fit in the new space. But before the move, they finally sat around it with friends — an accidental gathering forced inside by the rain.
Making time to have the people you love around your table and communing have become really important, says Chichester. “You know, having it taken away from you really brings it home.”
“Salomon X Pro 120 Ski Boots Approximately 4 seasons old (no use the last 2 seasons due to COVID)”
Skiing, cycling, golfing.
“That’s our life,” says Dave Bouchard who lives with his partner in a Toronto condo and a house in Ellicottville, N.Y., jokingly known as “a drinking town with a ski problem.”
So a retirement trip in February 2020 naturally found the former firefighter on the slopes — in Cortona, Italy. Two weeks later, that country would be crushed by COVID.
But there was still much unknown about the virus on this side of the Atlantic. On his return, Bouchard made a quick round-trip to Ellicottville for a final ski, leaving behind his Salomon X Pro boots.
Two weeks later the border closed: the couple’s bikes, golf clubs and ski equipment were in New York, out of reach.
When it was finally clear that fall to fly into the U.S., the couple returned to Ellicottville, rented a moving van and brought their stuff back to Toronto. The equipment went into storage, the couple into 14-day quarantine.
“That was the price to pay to get our toys back,” says Bouchard.
While the couple cycled and golfed through the pandemic, skiing took a hit — even a 2021 trip to Big White in B.C. was cancelled due to a COVID outbreak.
The ski boots never got much use, says Bouchard who has bought a new pair with integrated heating. He isn’t all that sentimental about the missed opportunities. His work taught him that: “When I left a call, I tried not to dwell on what I saw … Otherwise there wouldn’t be much left of me after 34 years (on the job). So I don’t really have a lot of emotional attachment to things, you know, I just try and move ahead.”
“New Justin Alexander 88110 wedding dress in ivory. Sweetheart neckline. Size 14. Strapless or comes with spaghetti straps. Never worn, never altered. Selling b/c pandemic changed plans.”
A wedding gown hangs in a garment bag in Jessica Jones’ cupboard.
It’s a reminder of something lost, but maybe more importantly of something gained.
“That dress …,” says Jones, pausing long enough that you can almost detect her reliving the awesome moment she slipped it on in an Ottawa store in the summer of 2020, “… just the cut of it; it fit perfectly and it had pockets, which was wonderful. It looked beautiful.”
Just three months earlier in her Toronto condo, after the pandemic put the kibosh on several romantic proposal scenarios, Jones said yes to the man she has known since they were five.
They set a date: May 29, 2021 in Ottawa — far enough off, they thought, that gathering restrictions would be lifted. The couple, who had dated for 15 years, wanted a big wedding.
But in January 2021, with the second wave bearing down, they faced a tough decision. They didn’t want to cut any of their 165 guests. And pandemic rules would have required a pared down celebration in all ways: “We wanted dancing,” says the renewals manager, “you know, we had been together so long and now we’ve also all been stuck inside for about a year at this point, and we’re like, no, we need dancing.”
So they moved the wedding to Oct. 16, 2021. In July, they moved it again, to May 28, 2022.
And while the dates kept shifting, the wedding dress was a constant, stored at her parents’ place in her old bedroom for safekeeping, a symbol of sorts that the day they wanted, in the way they wanted it, would one day arrive.
“Then we got a wonderful surprise — about three days after I booked our bachelorette party in Charleston, I found out I was pregnant.”
Jackson was born March 29, 2022.
The bachelorette party was cancelled, the wedding was still a go, the dress a big maybe.
Jones dropped the baby weight, but the dress didn’t fit. “The back had beautiful detail which would have to be all undone … It was a pipe dream that it was going to work. And, and if it wasn’t going to be the same dress and look the same way, I don’t want to ruin (it).”
Jones had four days to find a replacement. “I was able to find another dress, which was lovely. But it isn’t that first dress, right?”
In retrospect, Jones says she wouldn’t change a thing. The old Hollywood-themed wedding went off without a hitch, and, stating the obvious, she adds, “I had a son and he’s gorgeous.”
But she can’t help feel a touch of sadness when she looks at video of herself walking in the store in her original gown, “like how I would have been walking down an aisle.
“It’s a reminder of how much (happened), how it was a long time coming and all of the plans we had to change a million times.”
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