This morning I rose at about 8 A.M., earlier than with the alarm perpetually set at 8:30. I showered, didn’ tbother to shave, brushed my 11 remaining teeth, put in my denture, smiled at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, checked my glucose level, took my insulin shot and prepared breakfast and coffee.
Swiss Muesli this morning. Had my second cup o’joe outside on the lanai. Song birds were out this morning as well as a warm spring sun and a breeze sending the palm trees a clattering.
I am in many ways a lucky man; a retired member of the white collar class who has the privilege of no longer having to work for a living and who is able to keep his distance from other human beings.
I am not a 77 year old living alone in a tiny apartment in New York with no view of green, sea or sky. I am not living without cranes or song birds. Though not rich by any means, I have no worries about paying my bills. I do not have to ride subway trains or line up at a food bank for my next meal.
I grew up in New York City, closely sharing the physical space with strangers one will never know. How strange it must be to now have to consider everyone – family, friends and strangers – a potential carrier of a deadly virus. How jarring it must seem to see a bustling, living city grow quiet, while everyone who can retreats to their rooms.
Those who can work from home are indeed privileged while the millions who have lost their jobs and the millions yet to do so try endlessly to file on line for desperately needed unemployment checks to pay the rent. Those of us who don’t have to w0rk at all are the most privileged.
Yet of course I have worries, primarily about my own children and grandson. And for my family still in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We check in with each other regularly. Two have been ill but are in recovery at home. One is elderly, like me and having a tough time of it.
Clark with his new toy while in hibernation!
My brother and sister in law and my niece, her husband and their new baby are locked up in their Manhattan apartments. Brother Al ventures out once a week, walking to his office on Wall Street. His last text to me was “Stay safe! They won’t waste a ventilator on either one of us!”
Likely very true.
If you live in New York and don’t know anyone who is sick, you eventually will. It’s strange, but for such a big place you always seem to run into people that you know from the past. A kid who was in your high school class or the mother of an old girlfriend who broke your heart. Even here in Florida I will encounter people I knew from my working years in the city.
When you ask someone how they are doing, its usually something like “Things aren’t great but we’re doing OK.” Seems like things aren’t great for anyone these days and for the most vulnerable are certainly not OK.. The virus has laid bare the economic inequalities and systemic insufficiencies which have always existed.
Ten million have applied for unemployment insurance these last two weeks, heath care workers don’t have access to protective gear while the wealthy have fled to their summer homes or here to Florida by the beach. Meanwhile the poorest among us clean out empty offices or deliver groceries to ur front doors.
So indeed I am one of the lucky ones, living in a comfortable home in a small gated community in the midst of palm trees, cranes and song birds. Money magically appears in my account monthly, I have no where I have to be and can keep my distance from everyone. No one comes to my door unannounced or uninvited. I have no appointments I have to keep; I have my television, music and my computer.
Perhaps something good will come out of this. Maybe there will be more thought about climate change, health care, unemployment insurance, paid sick leave. Maybe we will learn to be a little kinder and gentler with one another, a little more grateful, a little more thoughtful about the way we move about in the world and interact with the people in it.
Meanwhile let us wait for the day when we can all step outside again without masks, look around at everyone else doing the same, without fear. It will be a beautiful day in the neighborhood indeed.