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A Season of Grief and Release: 5 Months of the Virus in New York City

  • August 07, 2020

I had spent decades as a die-hard New Yorker, defending my hometown against the smack-talking of malcontents and come-latelys, and my heart ached for my fellow citizens, for the transit workers and the funeral directors, the unsheltered and the first responders.

Privately, I railed against my own internal upheaval, mad at how selfish it sounded in my head: Did I still love the city if bars and museums were closed? If there were no plays, musicals or movies? No Queens Night Market, no cocktails on the roof of the Met, no tennis lessons in Central Park, no burlesque shows in Bushwick, no dim sum in Chinatown, no Donna Summer dance parties in Bed-Stuy? If the spontaneity of running into an old friend or making a brand-new one had evaporated?

In mid-May, there was talk of reopening. I hadn’t been on the subway in over 75 days, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d worn closed-toe shoes or pants. (Caftans — day in, day out.) Seldom-seen gray hairs, usually disguised expertly in a salon, met me in the mirror each morning. Both my toenails and my dog’s were in desperate need of professional help. I wondered if for my own birthday, in June, it might be possible to do something sort of social.

Then, on Memorial Day, George Floyd died after being pinned under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

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