I see so many family members and friends posting photos of their quiet walks through their neighborhood or talking to a neighbor from across the wide street. I see people complaining about “being stuck at home” while their kids play on their swing set or go for a dip in their pool. I see people post photos of themselves on a large lawn with friends that are all 6+ feet apart, enjoying a beer, and using the caption #quarantine.
Quarantine in the city is quite different. So much of our life here IS the actual city. The city is our backyard. The trees and the parks are an extension of our homes. Our walks through town and passing by people we know are part of our routine, every single day. The quarantine hasn’t made us stop and enjoy these things...it’s taken these things away from us.
Quarantine in the city means we stay inside an apartment that is the same size as some suburban master bedrooms. It means that we get our fresh air by opening the windows or spending some time on the patio or balcony that only few are lucky enough to have. It means going for walks with your guard up and being ready to step aside or into the street to avoid a neighbor. It means explaining to your kids why they can’t see their friends that they know live in the same building. It means wearing gloves & masks just to take out the trash or check if that Amazon delivery arrived. It means having our favorite place to ride a bike or play with the dog roped off and turned into a COVID-19 testing site. Quarantine in the city means looking out the window and being able to see your backyard, but not being able to touch it.
But, it also means that the strength of the community is that much more palpable. The waves from window to window are so meaningful. The sounds of neighbor’s doors or their kids jumping make us feel connected, knowing that if we hear them, we know they are ok. The citywide cheers at 7pm bring us together – not only for our frontliners, but also for each other.
Now that this is all going on much longer than anticipated, many are starting to make plans to leave their beloved city. Some temporarily and others for good. The lure of a backyard and open space is just too strong, and both the kids and adults are feeling it. Social media has made it so easy to see other people’s version of quarantine…and it’s a hard comparison.
Quarantine in the city is hard. And we see so many people struggling with it. So, whether you have decided to ride it out in the city, have decided that a temporary leave is what you need, or have even made the big move a permanent one, I have a message for the beloved cities of the world, specifically mine:
You will be back and better than ever. All of the reasons that we fell so hard in love with you will be back in bigger and greater ways. You will feel the footsteps of our children playing in the parks and the playgrounds more often and with more laughter in the air. You will hear the groups of people walking and laughing along the streets, stopping to look up and appreciate the old building they used to just pass by without a notice. You will see the hustle and bustle of people going to and from work each day, appreciating the chance to do so. Your shops, salons, and restaurants will be busy and lively once again. You are a part who we are, just as we are a part of you. You are our home and one that we will never take for granted. We can’t wait to see you again.
photo by Little Hoboken Photography