My City-Less Summer

A summer without venturing into New York City is not typical for me.  I live on Long Island, I go to school in Manhattan, and I’ve always been one to hop on the LIRR or even drive in for  a day and explore my favorite areas, try a new restaurant, or just spend a sunny day walking around Central Park. I would be seeing Broadway shows, taking classes, performing in showcases, maybe participating in an internship, and just generally doing things that have been brought to a halt because of all of the restrictions currently in place. So, this year, COVID-19 made for a very different summer. I’ll be honest, though, it wasn’t just the fear of getting sick or the lack of spaces allowing guests that deterred me from visiting my favorite city. 


There is a serious amount of unrest and social tension in the world right now. And somehow, even though the city is essentially as empty as it has ever been, there has been an unnerving amount of violent crimes in broad daylight. Watching the news is definitely not helpful when it comes to putting the current state of the city in a  positive light, but it’s necessary to know what is going on. Because of that awareness, though, I maintained this mindset where I would not go into the city unless some situation arose that required me to make the trip. Nothing came up, and I’m content with that, because if it had, I wouldn’t have been able to fully enjoy and appreciate being there. Instead, I would have been apprehensive and probably very paranoid, and that’s okay. These are very uncertain times, and the city right now is very different from the city I am used to, so while keeping my distance this summer felt odd and was certainly not ideal, it was the right move for me personally. 


I stayed home, I stayed safe, I spent quality time with my family, I did a lot of writing and reflecting, I took up new self-care activities, I went to the beach more times than I ever have in one summer, and it really helped to clear my head and slow me down. I will say that while I did my best to stay busy and not dwell on how sad it made me not to visit my beloved home-away-from-home, it still got to me. The live cams on the news that broadcast footage of empty streets which I am usually walking with fellow New Yorkers and the constant reminders of how many people are leaving the city put a knot in my stomach. And I held out hope that I would have to return to campus for classes, but we’re remote for the semester, so home on Long Island is where I will stay until further notice. 


Not knowing when I will next be in the city can be very jarring, and I often start to get myself worked up when the thought creeps in that I might not see the skyline for quite some time still. But I keep reminding myself that New York always bounces back. And even more important, New Yorkers care too much about their city to stay away for too long. Right now, I won’t be prioritizing strolling through Times Square just for fun, because as of now, that is just not safe, and I need to be realistic. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t also be optimistic and know that when the time is right and I am well-prepared and mentally ready, I’ll be back, and it will feel like I never left.