by Janice Radomsky
We’re well into week two of COVID-19 shut down in New York, and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. I’m like a pendulum swinging from the philosophical to WTF?!
Last Wednesday was the day that, for me, reality bit hard. My morning started out ok. I got up, got dressed for an early client meeting (which means business-appropriate on the top half, blow-dried hair and some makeup), and I made the long commute from my bedroom to the office set-up in my living room.
But two pieces of news within 2 minutes of each other made me crumble. At 10:32, a friend phoned hysterically to say she’d been laid off. And at 10:34, I got an email to say the Super, who runs and lives in my building, had been diagnosed with corona. I was confined to my apartment for the rest of the day while the men in Ghostbuster-like suits did a full chemical clean – an 8 hour process which ended at 2am.
I know this kind of news is only just the beginning. This is going to hit people in so many unimaginable ways, on both a micro and macro level. But last Wednesday morning was my realization that this is not a drill.
For the rest of the week, nervous energy and a phantom tight chest kept sleep at bay. And I grappled with the reality that I wasn’t going to be in Sydney to hug my Mom on her 80th birthday (or even be able to explain why).
I also spent the week agonizing whether to stay on my own or take up the kind offer to bunker down with family friends. Solo isolation may seem bliss for those home schooling right now, and I totally get it! But for someone who thrives off the energy of others, this was a tough choice.
In the end, I decided home is my comfort, and New York is my home. She stuck by me, and I’ll stick by her.
Last week was THE most bizarre week ever.
But…we humans are adaptable. And as we’ve rolled in to week two, I’m starting to adjust to the new (ab)normal.
The initial shock of seeing the streets go quiet, has made way for quiet resignation. I now accept that the once-pumping East Village will be deserted for a while, the billboards flashing inspirational quotes about the city will now be flashing covid announcements, and my social life will be relegated to my MacBook and my iPhone.
Perhaps most jarring is that the banter between New Yorkers, that has always made me feel so alive, has been replaced by suspicious glances. Shopping in my local supermarket on Sunday felt like a game of murder mystery, only with an insidious secret weapon that is invisible to the naked eye.
Yet, I’ve still had the odd glimpse of the old New York. My building’s quarantine tribe rallied together as we staged a mutiny to re-open the rooftop (my lifeline to fresh air and other humans)! And a friend and I had a good laugh with a bartender who was selling Hard Times Cocktails To Go through a window onto the street.
But… sadly… it seems that even that window to normality is closing.
And as I listen to Governor Cuomo share the startling statistics of the new hotspot that is New York, my focus is shifting from inwards to outwards. Because really, there are people facing far worse than me being confined to my apartment.
And so, all I can do is get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and expand my life within my four walls.
I’ll go to yoga on my living room floor. I’ll go to gym in the corner where my yet-to-be-used weights are awaiting my attention. I’ll meet friends for drinks on Zoom. And I’ll crank up the volume on those online dance parties and dance like no-one is watching… because, for now, no-one is…
Stay safe and stay healthy,
This essay was written by Janice Radomsky and is republished with permission.
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