NYC is a strange, strange place right now during the coronavirus. The streets are quiet, especially at times when they shouldn’t be. The urban bumblebees (taxis) no longer whiz by. Many of my neighbors have left, so when I turn out the lights at night it’s just darkness. I used to see inside everyone’s apartments like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. People’s lives were like fireflies, flickering on and off, a connectivity that’s been lost.
The circadian rhythm of the city has shifted and it doesn’t feel right. The hustle has become a hush. Even after 9/11 we were all here, embracing each other, supporting one another’s businesses. The city never shut down. If anything, it rallied. When I step outside now it’s as though I’m in a weird dream. Empty streets scattered with a few masked souls. The life force has been muted. There is no volume.
The other week I went for a walk in the park because I was getting stir crazy at home. I saw a man sitting alone on a bench with a bunch of belongings staring aimlessly in the distance. Even though his expression was obscured by his mask, his eyes spoke volumes. I don’t know if he’d lost someone, a job, housing, but I was compelled to go sit with him, like someone did for me after 9/11, but then I remembered the decree and kept my distance.
There will be a rebirth. There always is. And the cyclical nature of life will resume. But for now the city that never sleeps remains silent, until she can sing again. Listen for her.