I took a walk around the Upper West Side late afternoon yesterday, which was the first official day that low-risk businesses could begin reopening. This meant that a number of coffee shops and Starbucks locations had reopened, even allowing a handful of customers inside their stores depending on the space. Restaurants that had previously been closed have reopened for takeout and delivery. Even a handful of clothing shops along Columbus Avenue have reopened, along with a stationery store on Broadway. There was far more life at 72nd and Broadway, considered the central hub, of the Upper West Side, than I’d seen in months. Street performers were scattered throughout. A random man collecting donations had about a dozen different parakeets, cockatiels, and lovebirds sitting around him, along with two bunnies in the center, just steps away from the Upper West Side Trader Joe’s. It actually feels like we’re slowly but surely getting back to regular street and sidewalk traffic.
It still felt weird, though. We’re not at ideal testing levels. There’s tension all around not just because of COVID-19, but because of police brutality, racial injustice, and the protests that we’ve seen around the world in the last two weeks. My mind and even my body are just exhausted. Walking only about 30 blocks, I felt so drained afterwards. The world is just so tiring, and our nation’s leadership is only exacerbating the problems that exist instead of offering comfort or tangible solutions. This is 2020.