Victoria’s Diary: Making memories before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

A car meet with friends at the Nassau County Museum of Art.
A car meet with friends at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a social being who loves to share time with my family, friends and colleagues. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to quarantine at home since March 12.

I often put in my memory bank, visual pictures of places and people I have cherished. Right before I began my lockdown, I had a picture-perfect day on March 11. I had gone to dinner at the exclusive Jean-Georges Philadelphia high atop the Four Seasons hotel on the 59th floor just blocks away from my office for Metro Philadelphia, our daily newspaper in the wonderful city of brotherly love.

I had met Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney and we had an instant rapport. The day we met it was announced that he got engaged to the wonderful Letitia Santarelli

We all shared a magical night dining at Jean-Georges, with my Metro Philadelphia Publisher Susan Peiffer. The setting is as magnificent as the design of each dish. It’s hard to believe that the picture-perfect delectable meal would be my last one out for months. But I keep the memory alive with a mental picture.

Working remotely now, with my office closed, I have been content. I have enjoyed seeing colleagues, friends and family through Zoom, but I snuck away to do a car meet. 

The governor now allows drive-in movies to be open, so my friends and I decided to do a drive-in meet-and-greet — staying six feet apart — at the parking lot of The Manes Art & Education Center at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

As I drove onto the former Frick Estate 175-acre lush green grounds, I couldn’t believe all the people milling around — there were groups after groups of hikers. What a difference from when I’ve been there in the past!

I carefully made my way into the colorful Manes building parking lot. In the rear of the lot were some masked women, one in her car, the other looking at the car. I thought for a moment that they had an accident, but no, they were my friends hidden behind their masks!

The Manes Art & Education Center is closed, but its parking lot has become a popular site for meet-and-greets.

We all laughed as I sat safely in my car feeling the warm sunshine on my face and the warmth of the friendship. It felt so good to actually see my friends in person and chat away, such a simple pleasure made so special because of the times we live in.

Each week day, my staff has Zoom and phone conferences ending with a quote of inspiration. One of my favorite ones is from mid-1950s Nobel prize winning theologist and philosopher Albert Schweitzer: “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” 

How profound and what speaks of my life!

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