Life Update (Again)

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so I hope you’re doing ok. I don’t know about you, but I can only manage to take things a day (sometimes a week) at a time. It feels impossible to think further ahead. And looking back at things that happened a week ago feel like a month ago. Time is a strange beast these days.

I’m sure we’re feeling the same way – frustrated at how little progress has been made at slowing COVID, wondering when we’ll see certain friends and family again, hoping things will go back to normal.

View of George Washington Bridge from Washington Heights, NYC. Photo by Jenny Loeffler. 2020.
I took this picture from a park near our apartment in Washington Heights. This is the George Washington Bridge (the GWB to locals). Famous for being the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge and the setting of Bridgegate from the summer of 2013.

I’m still in New York City, where Gavin and I have been since March 13 when everything came to a halt. But things have gotten better here since then. We’re no longer “shelter-in-place.” We can see other people again, we can go on long walks, I can get that Starbucks cold brew I’ve so dearly missed. The biggest change is that we must wear a mask at all times outside of the house. It’s fine if you’re outdoors, seated and away from others, in a park if you take off your mask for a bit. And it seems that mostly everyone is following the rules. NYC positive cases and hospitalizations are going down. Things are feeling better. But I work in theater, and Gavin works in film. We have no idea when theaters and movie theaters will truly be back in a functioning, operational way. It may take a long time. But we’re both very fortunate to still be employed. Still hopeful.

In possibly one of the most baffling pieces of recent communication, a distant family member recently told me that “the city I love” was “destroyed.” I don’t agree with that at all. New York is facing a tough time. That’s undeniable. But its people are resilient and have proven time and again that the city will be reborn from the ashes (this time, figuratively). Several hundred thousand people apparently left the city to quarantine elsewhere, and some might not come back. If you’re reading this and you live outside of New York, I just need you to know this one hard fact: New York will rebuild itself. It always has.

Here are a few articles that bring me comfort when I question why I’ve stayed:

A truth of the matter is that I’m desperate for things to go back to “normal.” I miss regular Sunday brunches with friends. Catching a matinee, grabbing dinner, and then heading back to the theater to see an evening show. I miss lazily wandering around on summer Fridays with no plans but stopping to get a gelato and maybe browse at a bookstore. And then head to see a new movie in those reclining lounge chairs with a giant bucket of popcorn. I miss seeing my coworkers every day (although, our group chats have made the days easier). I oddly miss my commute! I miss reading a book on the train, and then looking up to realize that someone else is reading the same book. I miss the musician that would play his guitar on my train 2 days out of every week on my way to work. I miss being able to hop on a plane and see my family. I miss my family.

…But I would also love to live in a new normal. One that we’re starting to get a glimpse of. People have demanded change, accountability, and action. Inaction is no longer acceptable. We can no longer tolerate silence. To be silent is to be complicit. We’ve seen some change already at my own place of work (which I’m super excited about!), and I’m thrilled to see room being made at the table.

Also… if you find yourself not understanding someone else’s suffering and cries for change (or worse – you’re denying their experience), do some reflection and think about what they’re going through. Read a damn book by a BIPOC author. Listen to a podcast. Ask someone why they feel a certain way and just listen. And if, after some reflection and self-education, you still don’t understand what they’re going through: just keep your mouth shut! So simple. And get off of Facebook (truly). Especially if you’re of a certain age, posting spammy links and actual fake news. In the words of Michael Jordan:

This truly was a stream of consciousness. But I’m mostly just here to say that I’m getting through it, and I hope you are too. Be kind to others.

And, again, just be kind.


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