Well, I finally made to New York City. The traffic down from Maine was easy but once we crossed into the New York area it was a stressful six-hour drive. The ferry route to the North Shore is easy with an hour and a half of sitting outside and reading while someone else drives across the Long Island Sound. The traffic in New York City has built up since I was last here only a month ago. Seems more people around, probably due to families returning for school— classrooms were supposed to open but then didn’t. My 11-year-old grandson attends school remotely and my teenaged granddaughter goes in for one day while the rest is online. The little guy is with his mom in the country as she works from home. His father is the only one back in the office. Everyone one is without a plan. That’s why I headed to Florida, where the weather is warmer, the beaches are open, my exercise program is open, painting classes are beginning again, and outdoor dining is available.
We are careful and wear our masks everywhere and stay distanced. I am working remotely with Zoom and hold office meetings all day to keep the wheels turning. My office is busy as the demand for real estate in proximity to New York City is stronger by the day, while in a harsh paradox, the homeless population in the City has also grown. The shelters were emptied and the Mayor moved most homeless folks into hotels. Many choose to stay on the street, where the homeless women seem to outnumber the men. I wonder if sleeping in the open is safer for them, while the men crouch in doorways. I carry cash to hand out. Amid the sad sidewalk scenes, the City has clearly come back to life since Labor Day. Often it seems with as many dogs as people. During the pandemic, the shelters couldn’t accommodate their four- legged residents with reduced staff, so many of the animals were adopted by families in quarantine. Offices are still empty and there are no evening lights on along Park Avenue and the lower Wall Street financial district. But there are glimmers of normalcy as so many of the restaurants have spilled out onto the sidewalks and bike lanes, some enclosed with plastic shielding and heating devices to keep their patrons comfortable. People are eating much earlier before dark as the cold sets in from the river on the east side. The empty stores are like pauses between the busy restaurants. Broadway and Times Square are abandoned as is the West Side around Lincoln Center. From above large areas of the city are dark. It is like a wartime blackout. Perhaps it is a war, but one that wasn’t manmade, and in which the only weapon to ensure victory is a vaccine needle.