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I lived this way on the Upper West Side for 20 years watching its gentrification, before I moved with my twoyearold and exhusband to a lovely but not right for me suburb of the city.  A few years ago, I was more than ready to move back to Manhattan renting in different neighborhoods like Chelsea near the Highline and the West Village. They never felt like home, so when I was ready to commit, I started looking for a place I could make my home and by chance found an apartment back on 75th street, two avenues down from where I started my adult life.  My new studio was much smaller and more expensive than the rent controlled one bedroom apartment I had in the eighties, but it had a lot of light, and with a lot of work, a lot of potential.  What was important was how much at home I felt in my little place from where I could relaunch my life – surrounding and inspiring me socially, intellectually, professionally, and blissfully.

I moved into my apartment in late January and by early March, in comes the coronavirus. Restaurants, museums, Broadway shows, coffee shops, designer boutiques, and practically everything else was closed. I had consulting contracts with no projects to put hours against and no dance spaces or yoga studies to practice patience. With work and life as I knew it coming to a screeching halt, I was left with way too much time and energy, anxiously waiting for the red light to turn green.

Over the last two weeks, I witnessed the first signs of a rebirth on the streets of my neighborhood.  My neighbors moved through the streets in a more easy going way, as if to say,”I’m feeling better, I’m not so afraid of you breathing on me, or having you touch the same door knob as me.” With masks over their mouths, it was hard to see if they were smiling, but I’d like to imagine so.   Some of the bars and restaurants had opened to the sidewalk so you could grab a daiquiri slushy or margarita on your way to Fairway, or to sip on the stairs of your building or on a bench in the park.  Still restrictive, but at least it was a start.   

Change is tough to take because we are driven to habits and practices, and people and places that make us feel comfortable. But challenges are also an opportunity to learn and grow and make positive changes. Business and residential scenarios will be handled differently in different parts of the city, but there are small smart things we can do now to set the stage for bigger bolder changes to come over time.   

  1. Find New Ways to love NY:  Lots of people whether they are living in the city or just visiting, like to plan outings to the theatre, a sporting event or a museum which won’t be feasible for a while.  Why not continue to spend time doing more walking tours, hikes, and bike rides.  The city has beautiful architecture and historical walks.  The central park conservancy and other parks in the city have guided nature tours you can do without a guide.  I’ve also seen a lot of lawn chairs at the parks where friends and family are chilling outside. While the weather is nice, why not do nothing together.
  2. Support the local guy’s   Amazon is super convenient, but it doesn’t help the local businesses when we order what we can easily get at the supermarket or shop next door.  Even if it is a few cents more we want to support small shop owners so that our streets won’t be one big CVS or empty high
  3. rise. I for one am an Amazon freak, but as of this writing I am limiting my Buy Now option to wait a day or so and check to see if the local shop has what I need.  After all, I have the time, and nothing is that essential to have on demand.
  4. Be good to your neighbor:  This may sound like I am going the route of a Mr. Rogers, but heck, what if we are food shopping for the seniors in our building now, why can’t we continue to do that?  Or be more considerate when we are in the elevators with neighbors if it is crowded stay out, or at the very least, don’t talk on the phone. 

I know that life as we knew it in New York City before the pandemic will never be the same, just as life in the eighties was so different than it was in 2003 or 2023.  I also know that New Yorkers are a strong and proud people who revolt against adversity and come out on top. And so, we will learn to accept the  changes in our lifestyle and find ways to support our neighborhood and the community.   In fact, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to contribute to a newly restaged New York and to call it my home.



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