At 7 pm like clockwork every evening my Upper East Side neighborhood erupts with applause to thank healthcare workers on the front lines. The first time I heard it, it brought me to tears. It highlighted the magic of New York City.
I’ve wanted to live in the city since I got my first internship when I was 16. I worked here my entire career, but I didn’t actually move to New York City until I was 28 years old. It was everything I hoped for and more.
Who could have known that less than two years later a sweeping pandemic would hit the world and change everything?
Shortly after the shelter in place orders were put in place New York City emptied out. Many people fled for the suburbs. Staying with my parents long term was not really an option for my boyfriend and me. We don’t own a second home like all of my neighbors apparently do. So, we stayed.
At first, it was eery. I have never seen the streets so quiet. Typically busy avenues have barely any cars on the them. A good chunk of the usually bustling restaurants are closed. Everyone is wearing masks (well, most respectful people are).
It’s been two months of quiet New York City. At first, the quiet was unnerving. As time went on it became comforting.
Maybe it’s because it’s spring and everything is in bloom. Maybe it’s because less cars mean less pollution which means fresher air. Maybe it’s because the typically gruff and cranky New York City is (a little) kinder. Maybe it’s because the quiet allows me to find the positives while also keeping those effected on my mind.
In the beginning, I definitely had backyard envy. Over time, I began to appreciate how lucky I am to live in this city. For better or worse, I will always remember where I was during this crazy time. This period will stay engrained in my memory for the rest of my life.
Even though there are times that I feel really alone. Isolated from my friends and family, etc. I am reminded everyday that we are all in this together.
Which brings us back to my window at 7 pm every evening. Lately, one of my neighbors has been playing Frank Sinatra’s “Theme from New York, New York” during the applause. The line, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” resonates now more than ever.