Dear New York City,
I miss you.
During my nineteenth hour in the car, I drove through your barren streets. I had just spent the last 27 days away from you, in sunny Florida and away from my city. Away from the epicenter of the pandemic. I had cancelled my flight back to the place I call home, in an effort to stay safe. I was surrounded by family members, and as much as I wanted to keep them safe (at which point “the young can handle the virus better than the old” was headlining newspapers and new stations), they were in fact keeping me safe.
I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to eat. Fresh veggies filled the refrigerator drawers. Hot food was cooked every evening. Although we also couldn’t get toilet paper and cleaning supplies, the virus hadn’t yet hit Florida like it was hitting back home.
And all I could think about was, you.
I think about all the people who aren’t as fortunate enough to escape you…the epicenter of the pandemic. The people who aren’t as fortunate to get food from their grocery stores without fearing life or death. I thought about all the people who are being immediately effected by the wrath of Covid-19 in New York City by losing family members, friends, colleagues and the likes.
I think about all the homeless people who rely on NYC commuters everyday to drop a few coins or a dollar bill in order to get a bite to eat. I think about all the people who will not be able to afford their rent because they live paycheck to paycheck. I think about the 75% of the 1.1 million public school students that live in poverty and how this is effecting them even more. I think about all the children who look forward to going to school to escape toxicity and/or abuse in their homes…and now can’t escape.
I think about all my friends who live in New York City to chase after their modeling and acting dreams and how all of our dreams have been put on hold. And I wonder how many will break because of this? I think about all my friends who are freelancers and rely on contracted work for a paycheck. I think about all my friends who are furloughed but grateful they still have their benefits. I think about all the small businesses that may not make it out of this alive. I think about the people who complain about hating their jobs, but working from home. I think about how they still have a job.
I think about all the single men and women, the widowed or people in long distant relationships who are weathering this storm alone. Who don’t have a companion to share their fear with. Or to have someone wipe away the tears. No one to give or receive a simple touch from or a back rub to help chase out the anxiety. I think about the people who won’t have physical contact for days or even months.
I think about my friend who is delivering babies from positive Covid-19 patients, who are giving birth alone and then have their baby taken away as soon as they come out of the womb. I think about my doctor friend who had to send off her children to live with her parents, because they can’t risk coming home and infecting them.
I think about the nurses and doctors who are currently pregnant and go to work fearing for not only their own life, but the life of their unborn child. I think about my friend who is on a unit of 15 nurses, but now only have 5. I think about how she can’t call out of work because she’s had a sore throat for the last three days. I think about her colleague who retired in the midst of this and then I think about all the other doctors and nurses who have had to come out of retirement to help fight this. I think about how there is no right or wrong answer to handing this in the way that’s best for you.
I think about the nurse who tried to keep a man alive for three days before he passed away and how she said he was one of the lucky ones to get a body bag. All the other dead bodies were being piled up in the ER or ICU because they don’t have enough time/man power to be able to handle the volume of deaths. Or about the plastic baggies filled with the deceased’s personal items that are piled up the ceiling, in hopes that their family members will one day be able to recover it.
I think about what happens to the bodies and where they go. I think about the morgues who “can’t care for remains of this magnitude.” I think about the bodies whose family can’t afford to bury them. Then I think about the bodies who haven’t been claimed after 14 days, so they’re buried in a mass grave on Hart Island.
I think about all the people who still have to leave their houses to go to work!! I think about their families and how scared they must be when they arrive home. To those people, thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do.
My heart is broken into a million little pieces over the place I call home, New York City.
During that nineteenth hour, I drove solemnly up the West Side Highway in disbelief. Nineteen hours closer to yet another destination of relief and safety. Another house of privilege, that will have a higher probability of protecting me and those inside it from harm. A house in the countryside, in a vastly less dense populated area, where I can email a grocery list to the local market that they then will deliver to my car. It makes me sick to know that not everyone has access to this. To say, I don’t take this for granted, would be a gross understatement. I think about this privilege a lot. And my heart breaks even more for New York City and all its people.
And as I drove, I cried. Few cars in site and not a single soul walking on the streets. The fantasy of Armageddon had finally become a reality in my beloved New York City. I didn’t want to drive through you, to someone else’s home other than my own. I wanted to stay. I wanted to be in my own home. I wanted to weather the storm with all the other New Yorkers. I want to bang on pots and pans and cheer for our first responders, doctors and nurses. I wanted to be with you. I wanted to be there for you. Because my heart is broken over you.
Covid-19 is tearing through you and there are days I’m not sure we’ll ever ever make it through this. But then I remember, we are New York City. We are tough and strong. We are resilient. And I have to remember, the sun will shine again.
Can’t wait to come home. I miss you forever.
‘Til I see you again,