A Wall Street Journal headline caught my eye: "When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?"
So, why do I live here, in New York City?
My life in New York since the pandemic hasn't been incredibly easy. While I know I'm fortunate to have a job where I can work remotely, my habits have had to change significantly since March.
I walk my dog morning and evening with a mask on because even at 11:30 at night, I still pass people on narrow sidewalks. I touch the handle of a door touched by hundreds every time I enter or leave a place, making hand sanitizer the fourth item in my "phone, keys, wallet" checklist. When I return home, I keep my mask on while I wash my hands so that they're clean when they near my face to draw down my mask. I wash my dog's paws. I haven't been on a subway since March and instead travel only where I can bike. I always bike with a mask on.
I didn't quite realize how rigid my actions were until I left the city and visited my parents in Kentucky. Riding in a car alone, touching door knobs only touched by us, it felt good for a moment to not have coronavirus at the forefront of my mind.
When staying in Connecticut, I walked the dogs maskless, never passing another person on the small suburban street where I stayed.
So, why New York?
Because I can step onto my fire escape to watch a protest march down the street adjacent to mine.
I can cover a BLM march from the ground, where the electricity in the air feels inimitable. I can turn the corner of my block to hear Bill Withers blasted from a loudspeaker.
I can walk my dog in the park and stumble upon a socially distant DJ set, people separated in the dark but dancing to themselves. I can fall off my bike after a car pulls out in front of me and be helped by three complete strangers. I can see the warmth in the face of the man who works at my local bodega, even though it is concealed by a mask. I can pass a neighbor walking home and stop to catch up, feeling our shared camaraderie that we have one another in the city.
I may be seemingly untethered to this city as a result of working remotely, but I desire nonetheless to be intwined within the fabric of this community.
The resilience of a city that has seen so much death and pain as a result of coronavirus reminds me that I can be resilient too. I'm here for the people who are resilient, passionate and alive, and who inspire me to be the same.
It's good to find balance and I'm glad for the two weeks I spent away, but when it comes down to it, there's still no where else I'd rather be.
I'm inspired by these people. I'm inspired by this city.
And though I could live anywhere now, I'm happy it's New York City where I've landed.
Enjoying and learning from this chapter as the pages turn