Since moving to New York City in 2015, the number one question I get asked is, “Do you think you’ll move back to California?” Sometimes it’s a bit more pointed with “When are you moving back to California?” but I respect that my grandma is a woman who likes a deadline and to do list as much (if not more) than I do.
I am guilty of asking this question all the time too, curious how others see their time in this city as a stop or the final destination. And during this time of physical distancing, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of home. Can home be two places? Three? Four? Five? When is a place granted the title of home and what does that mean to different people? What does that mean to me?
Last Sunday evening, as per my usual cool kid routine, I sat down to organize my planner for the week. It’s a whole thing — the colored pens come out, lists from the previous weeks make an appearance to be condensed into one space, and by the end I am feeling so full of organized life that I can’t help but scoop the cats up for a dance party.
Typically this is how it goes but last Sunday, with my colored pens and lists at the ready, I realized I didn’t really have anything to fill in my time after work. And then my brain immediately turned into this …
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The answer I’ve been giving and receiving most this past month when asked how I am is “highs and lows, highs and lows.” Is there any other way to describe April?
While March felt like sudden whiplash with the world shutting down practically over night, April instead felt more like a reckoning with the longevity of the pandemic and its effects, of big questions and new needs, and trying to navigate what my new now looks like.
I am often asked what New York City is like right now and I feel like my answers always fall short. They fall short because I am deeply privileged during this time, with a job that easily transitioned into working from home and a grocery store around the corner that doesn’t have too long of lines, which means I am rarely leaving my neighborhood, no longer taking the subway or Lyfts, and trying to avoid crowded spaces as much as possible. Easier said than done in New York but like everyone else, I’m trying.
On good days, I treat myself to walking into neighborhoods a few miles away, and on the best days, my feet get to enjoy their old routine of finding their way to the water where we peer at Manhattan across the river. Seeing her there but not being able to travel over, it feels like missing an old friend. She looks oddly quiet as I take her in from Brooklyn, and I find myself missing most the afternoons I would spend reading on a bench in the sun while drinking tea on the Promenade.