Good morning, Wednesday. It's gloomy in the city, for so many reason. There are small slivers of hope happening in terms of hospital admittances, etc. but wow. This has been nothing short of surreal.
As many of you know, I identify as a New Yorker from deep within my bones, even though I am a native Philadelphian. There is no place on Earth that feels more like home for me than New York City, and my neighborhood in Brooklyn has always been a great source of comfort and joy for me. I love living here and I audibly sigh when I cross the Brooklyn Bridge and head back home.
I have seen a lot of shit go down in this city. I was here for 9/11, the blackout, Hurricane Sandy. And though there were dark days, this is different. I've joked to friends that I always like being where the action is, but being in the city this time around has felt scary, and strange. What was different about 9/11 was the fact that neighborhood businesses were a huge source of our collective healing. Bars remained open, giving away free drinks to those of us trying to cope with a new reality. People gathered together- around car radios, coffee shops, and anywhere to find some source of connection- I remember so clearly the horrible search for loved ones, and all the photos posted on walls and fences that all of us stopped to look at in disbelief, bonded together in our collective horror. But cut to now.
There is no ability to physically be together at this very hard time. The stores are shuttered. The gyms are closed. Going into a pharmacy to pick up allergy medicine feels treacherous and downright frightening. The three block lines to go into Trader Joe's where people stand six feet apart are now a part of everyday life. And yes- I hate to admit it, but I've come across some people who have been hostile and rude. But tensions are so high, and I get it. These are unprecedented times and we are in the center of a swirling storm and it's all too much.
I was going to write a funny post today about all of my COVID era self discoveries, but something else took precedence. I posted about it on Instagram this am but here's a closer look.
Last night was a beautiful evening, and as the golden hour when the sun was setting so perfectly on the brownstones, we took Khan for a walk before dinner. We have literally been walking in a two block radius of light, somehow finding comfort in both the routine and the need to feel close to home, even when we are outside.
I passed a woman and her young daughter, seated on their beautiful stoop, dressed in outstanding clothes. She was in a sequined Rachel Comey dress (spotted by local clothing boutique Bird on my feed), with silver stilettos, and her daughter was in a lovely dress too. As I passed them with my bandanna mask and army jacket and unwashed hair, I audibly gasped. How stunning and chic they looked. It was like a ray of sunshine on top of the sunshine. I stopped to thank them for making an effort. New York is a town infamous for its stylish inhabitants, and for me, I felt a glimmer of hope amongst all that glitz. We walked the dog and talked about our day, and what we were going to make for dinner, or if we wanted to order from our new favorite French place around the corner (La Cigogne- best Nicoise salad in town, not to mention the hand cut truffle fries).
As we reached our house, our next door neighbor was sitting outside with his face mask on, looking a bit under the weather. His house is all about the old school part of Carroll Gardens that I equally love- blow up decorations for all the holidays and Sunday gravy with family that always comforts me when I see their disposable silver trays in the trash on Monday (secretly, I've hoped for an invite since I moved in). We nodded in his direction and asked how he was doing, to which he replied, "not well. I lost my daughter to the virus". And then my sense of hope sank deep into my soul. She was 31 years old.
The ups and downs of this period will never be forgotten. One day you feel hopeful as you watch the trees bloom, the next day you can't get out of bed. The juxtaposition of joy and sadness in the time it took to walk the dog was so intense. Living in New York is intense as is- everyone knows that. But right here and now is when living in New York becomes more. It becomes a barometer and symbol for what the whole world is going through. In a one block radius.
Wherever you are and whoever you are, I hope you are finding some glimmers of hope along with the sadness. I'm someone who is very empathic and tend to put my emotions in a drawer to cope with life, but that drawer is full and busting open so I'm letting it all out. I love New York more than ever, and I've never been prouder to live in a place that forces us to deal with the very messy business of life, right here, right now. It's funny because what I'm missing more than anything during this time of Corona is not brunching with friends or leaving the house. I'm missing my community- the local flavor and the kids getting on busses to go to school when I leave my barre studio in the morning, the beautiful shops and boutiques full of creative entrepreneurs that make living here a lovely experience. And the sense of normalcy of living in a city that, although, chaotic, is full of love and hope and connection. I suppose that's why I've been finding great comfort in old episodes of "Sex and the City" lately, because that's the New York I fell in love with. We'll live there again, together. I'm sure of it.
Cause that's what's up this proud New York moment during this very difficult time. Yours, in concrete jungles where dreams are made of, there's nothing we can't do. Let's hear it for New York, because there's no place like it. Happy Passover, ps. A virtual Dayenu from me to you. XO