Lessons thru a pandemic: Lesson 1
I attended my virtual Seder last night, actually probably my first Seder ever. As part of the service, we were asked to reflect on the bitter and the sweet in our lives. Most people expressed their bitterness towards the current political situation and lack of leadership, and while I agree, I reflected and shared aloud my bitterness about living in a city that feels like a pariah, an outcast. With strong flashbacks and memories of 9/11, friends pitying me for living here and saying that they wouldn’t visit New York for a long while until it was safe, I find myself once again feeling defensive and needing to protect my city. Yes, I know it’s the “epicenter” and I am reminded daily of how quickly the virus is spreading and killing many in our community, and for that, I am saddened and terrified. But, I love my New York. I miss my New York. I am grateful for my New York.
I was never planning on living in the City, but after being here for over 25 years, I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now. New York is a place where I have thrived with my best friends; it’s also a place where I have had crashing lows. It’s a place where I have found great love and been through difficult heartbreak. It’s a city where I have had the chance to follow my passion of helping young people explore and navigate worlds not typically open to them; a place where culture rules with world-class acting and graceful, mind-blowing dance performances; a place where I can satisfy my craving for chunky, spicy guacamole and salt-rimmed margaritas at any time of day or night; a place where being different is acceptable and a place where I have been able to lend my voice to the diversity and inclusion conversation. All of these wonderful aspects of the City came to a grounding halt four weeks ago. Storefronts closed, Broadway dimmed, speaking engagements canceled, and restaurants only stay open for take-out and delivery—no more community gathering. I feel bitter at how isolated the City feels now– faceless people, hidden behind masks, tucked away in apartment buildings, barely venturing outdoors and only social distancing. No hustle, no bustle—just sirens. NYC has had her spirit and voice trampled.
And, just like NYC, I have felt silenced and have silenced myself. I have had my spirit crushed. I haven’t written anything for the past four weeks. I haven’t read any of the articles I had promised myself I would now have time to read. I have bowed out of diversity and inclusion conversations leaning in instead toward the crisis at hand. I have felt alone and lonely even among all the Zoom calls, Google meets, and Houseparty hangouts. And yet, it hit me last night, my personal “sweetness” is the few minutes of kindness and love that I share with my neighbors each night at 7 pm. My shimmering light of hope is when I use my voice night after night crying out my window moans of thank yous and shouts of love for those on the front lines still braving the external world. I have invited virtual dinner companions to join this melody of appreciation, and each person has remarked how beautiful and warm the cheers sound. The cacophony of noise warms my heart. This is a glimmer of my NYC—it’s the glimmer of the collective voice.
In a time requiring and enabling introspection, I realize that one of the first lessons I am learning through this pandemic is that it is through community that we will find our voice and spirit again. It is through community that I will find me again. In times of difficulty and trial, we are indeed stronger together.
#gratitude #strongertogether #lessonsthruapandemic #livingsingleinthecity