How has life changed for those of us who are now fully vaccinated? There is not a person on the planet who has not been affected by the last year and, our people, being older but some of the most optimistic, self-empowered, and forward-looking, are of a unique group. This past year was, as Dr. Ronnie Stangler puts it, “itself a huge epigenetic risk factor.” How are we all dealing with it?
We first profiled Robert Bentley here 5 years ago in NYC. As he is someone with a serious underlying cardiac condition, and someone who was living in the center of the storm, we wanted to learn more about how he is feeling now, and what has changed for him. Everyone has a story from this last year, and this is Robert’s.
“Having to alter all my actions and routines gave me a whole new sense of identity and existence”
How was the pandemic for you? Did you spend most of it in NYC?
The pandemic was extremely interesting in that it opened up a chapter where having to have to alter all my actions and routines gave me a whole new sense of identity and existence. At first, I felt as though my identity was being ripped away and it was interesting to realize how much of my sense of self was based on my productivity and accomplishment.
A few years back I bought a very charming cabin deep in the Adirondack State Park. I bought it completely furnished, furniture made from logs, all the right plaids and antlers on the cabinets, etc.
So I spent 3 solid months there with my dog, on a mile-long road with no neighbors. I sat on the porch in a rocking chair looking at the trees for hours.
We talk a lot about being in the moment but stripped of my routine, my normal household objects, hanging out with trees I was overwhelmed with a sense of the sheer miraculousness of existence. I was kinda thrust into a kind of happiness that I had never experienced.
What were you doing with your downtime?
Between March and July, I got to pursue my other passion and spent every day in my studio painting.
“I think of my business as an orchard that I planted many years ago and now it’s bearing lots of fruit”
That’s tremendous. But how was your business during that time?
I think of my business as an orchard that I planted many years ago and now it’s bearing lots of fruit. I have such great relationships with a lot of brilliant jewelers who have shops around the country and before I retreated into the mountains I sent them lots of inventory which is selling really well.
Oddly enough, I had a record-breaking year.
You have some pretty serious underlying heart conditions. How did that feel during Covid?
I have been collecting Corart stents since 1995. I have 12 at this point. I think stress is a major contributor to that problem and, fortunately for me, my security was in a place that I didn’t have the issues that are affecting so many of our friends and neighbors. So many businesses in my neighborhood are gone.
You are one of the first of our people to be fully vaccinated with 2 shots. How has that changed your day-to-day?
I had been going into the office for four hours on Tuesdays and now I’m feeling ok to go in three days a week. 47th street/ the Diamond District is one of the few blocks in the city that appears to be unchanged.
NY’s diversity is on full display. On the street, lots of people with masks under their chin. So I feel much more secure walking to my office these days. I also had a very fine meal at a charming sidewalk cafe for the first time in a year. It really brightened my spirits. Sharing beautiful food with good friends and good conversation is a quintessential element in NYC life.
“While my feeling of wellbeing is pretty solid these days, one can’t help but feel a significant undertone of tenuousness for the world around you”
Do you feel differently about life in general now that you have the shots?
It’s interesting that while my feeling of wellbeing is pretty solid these days, one can’t help but feel a significant undertone of tenuousness for the world around you. I was in Soho and it’s a ghost town. I take a cab and there is very little traffic in the morning. I’m ok… it is the world that seems off.
How would you feel about going to a large crowded event now?
I haven’t been in a situation where I have to wear a mask for more than 20 minutes at a time. My glasses fog up. I can’t yet see myself on an airplane or at the theater having to wear a mask. I think wearing masks is incredibly important; I always wear one. I did spend a good 2 hours at MoMA last week; I could have stayed longer but I need to go home and remove the mask.
Are you thinking of going back to the gym?
I miss the gym a lot. I can’t see myself on the elliptical wearing a mask though.
Any thoughts of “revenge” shopping, or any big travel plans coming up? It is a term the Chinese are using for post-pandemic shopping.
Revenge shopping! Ha! I love that concept! My business is doing well, apparently, because people are buying more colored gemstone jewelry these days because they aren’t spending on travel but rather on jewelry. I’m thinking about buying a house in the Hudson Valley. I need a bigger studio and my dog wants a yard!
But to answer your question, eyeglasses. Masks make your eyes more important in the absence of the smile. I bought some pale pink transparent plastic ones from Robert Marc. On crazy hair days I look a little Warholian.