the new york island

Last last summer. This shirt ended up shrinking so much that my daughters can wear it now. These pants are now part of my home uniform. Brendan’s hair is short now, but getting longer. The girls are much taller now.

We will ride this ferry again.

But what happens when you’re daughters are at the dinner table, singing along with Woody who is singing This Land Is Your Land and it’s not, it’s none of ours and later, I get the Times alert that casually informs me that autocrats are taking more and more power and definitely won’t give it over later, no way no how, and how, how in the world are we supposed to eventually reframe this tragedy as a seismic cultural/societal shift when we’re squirreled away in our homes in fear, quiet and waiting to be told?!

I like to be told.

I didn’t feel the acute panic today. Brendan took the girls outside at 6pm to run around the block and came back having put an order in for Thai food at our favorite spot around the corner. Is that ok? he asked. Me, out of breath and in between reps of squat jumps, sure, I gasped. The restaurant worker assured him they were taking all the necessary precautions and when B went to pick it up, he brought the food to the door, bagged and ready-to-go, passed off at arms-length.

We wiped down the containers, crossed our fingers. The girls ate quickly and without complaint. I spaced out a bit, zapped from my home workout and spaced-out by superstition. Would this be my slip-up? When will the mistake happen? The Thai food left me feeling unsettlingly…normal. Before, Thai food would’ve been a night when neither one of us wanted to cook, or the girls would’ve had after-school and we’d all want to eat quickly and not have to clean up the kitchen. To me, it felt like I’d let my guard down, left the door open a crack. For a moment, I forgot where we were.

But I know where I am. I know what’s happening beyond this crumbly apartment building, past this sweet neighborhood, across the bridge, over the BQE, just…there. I know what it looks like from the pictures, but have no idea what it feels like, the texture of panic, the metallic taste of bone-deep worry, of quick decisions, of not enough protection, of a hospital ship called Comfort sailing into our harbor, of hospital beds in the middle of Central Park. I bow down to the people showing up for this work every day. My hands are over my heart for you all. And if these folks can do it, so can I. I can wash my hands until they crumble. I can breathe deep and take comfort in the fact that today, I am well. I will stay home for as long as it takes for this awful storm to pass, and we’ll do just what the chalkboard sign at my neighborhood wine shop reminds us to do.

Stay safe. Be patient.

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