Week Two: Life In the Epicenter of the Coronavirus Friday March 27, 2020

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I write to you from the couch in my apartment in Stuytown, this sprawling complex on the edge of East Village and I believe Kips Bay. One of the many wonderful things about New York City, and in particular, Manhattan, are the myriad parts of this island, each one its own personality. Stuytown fits into this wonderful quality, this oasis in the city, its own ecosystem with its two gyms, wellness centers, childcare facilities, elder care center, cafe and even, its own lending library. There are two fountains that I know of in Stuytown, the biggest one is at what is referred to as The Oval, capital T, capital O, and it is our version of Sheeps Meadow. In the summer time, its great lawn is adorned with white adirondack chairs and people enjoying the sun. On Veteran’s Day, American flags wave proudly, during Christmas and Hanukkah, there is a tree and a menorah, basking in each others presence and, when it starts to get warm, you’ll find on any given Thursday, a cover band playing on a makeshift stage, cover tunes (I’m still waiting for the Pavement cover band to be booked). The Oval is the pulse of this community. Park benches adorn its circular boundary, and within the fountain square, elderly folk and youngsters and everyone in between, sit and watch the water plume emerge and retreat. Thankfully no wildlife swirls in the fountain, just the reflections of humanity. It is where you’ll find me, most days, when I’m in between jobs. Just, not right now, not during the Coronavirus.

Stuytown is now a sleepytown. While in Week One, I walked Rocky through the four corners of this complex, this week, I’ve limited my forays into the concrete oasis to simply walk him to and fro, not more than a few hundred steps I am taking. I’m not as open to the world this week; over the weekend, I’d walked with my neighbor and longtime best friend to Union Square, to the Duane Reade there to pick up medication, and also for me, a Brita filter, and while I was waiting for my friend, a man walked by me, blowing his nose. He was tall, silver haired, thin, wearing coral red jeans, and a few layers of coat, his face gaunt, the haggard veneer of a long time East Village resident; I knew the moment I saw him, to turn my back to him, not out of fear, but in this era of Coronavirus, I no longer make eye contact, and I’m glad I turned away, because of that nose blowing. In pre-Coronavirus days, I’d have just laughed; now I count the days of my health. And so, I’ve restricted my movement, to the quietness of Stuytown, where social distancing is slowly becoming de rigeur.

This week, I maintained my routine. I am alone with Rocky—The Teenager is safely ensconced in New Jersey with her boyfriend, his family and their yard. I wake up, I shower, I put on my latex gloves—always when I go outside—I walk Rocky. I spend the time in the early hours of the day taking my vitamins (multi, D3, Magnesium, and a B), I apply to jobs that will never return my well-crafted cover letter—the young folk in charge of reviewing resumes don’t want women their moms age as part of their recruiting legacy it seems—, and I reach out to my friends who are alone and who are with partners and with children, slowly making my way through my friends near and far. I am still employed at the current freelance opportunity, and so, the workday for me, begins at 9:30; that’s when I turn on the email. From the moment the email is turned on, the day is a whirlwind. I don’t mind not being able to think, thinking becomes a fright. I take Rocky out for his second walk around five, prepare my dinner, work a little longer, and by seven, I try, although not always successful, to turn off the work email. Yoga practice happens in the quiet of the night, me on my purple mat in The Teenager’s room, vinyasa-ing to Taylor Harkness. In the quiet of the evening, I Facetime with The Teenager and Pat, I speak to my Mom, I text with my friends, and I do what is possible to stay connected to my personal world. And then, then I take Rocky for his last walk around ten, and then, I prepare for bed. This is my routine and it’s working for me.

The wild restlessness of last weekend has dissipated. The panic buying at Target and Trader Joe’s from two weekends ago has worn off. The community I live in is adjusting. As am I.


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