We have been in a parallel universe for many months, when many of my clients and many New Yorkers left to second homes, rentals, childhood homes, Europe, the mountains and beaches, National Parks, and beyond. No one seems to be zooming in while orbiting the planet, unlike this tv show Away, where cell phone service seems better than it is in most elevators- but never mind- suspend your disbelief for a little while, while we focus on the soap opera of Life in the Time of Corona.
In the midst of our own being AWAY, a million articles have been written about the sorry state of life in New York City. I am not a little bit disappointed in these articles, which do a lot to stoke the imaginations of people who are already predisposed to anxiety- C’mon, already. If New York City has a mascot, it’s an anxious man or woman. Insert your own vision of what that mascot looks like, as that person now takes every form.
Let’s talk a little about what is fear, and what is reality.
Health – Inside vs Outside
In no way do I want to minimize people’s concerns about staying healthy today. The fears about catching COVID-19 in New York City while walking, running, or being outside are probably outsized to the actual risks. However, it’s obvious how quickly this spreads inside when people exercise poor judgement, throw parties, and decide that wearing masks isn’t cool. Unfortunately, these fears are legitimate. The reality? People must wear masks as much as they can, and all the time inside.
I am particularly disappointed in the entire conversation around hotels being used as homeless shelters. It will go down, when we finally take a full stock of everything that’s happened over the past year, as a really dark spot. The conversation I was reading seemed to echo the fears of some kind of zombie apocalypse. The reality? People have been away, just as they are in normal summers. It’s hot, people are outside. And for as long as there’s been supportive housing, it has been all over the Upper West Side. As people return, not only will they see their gorgeous city still here, but they’ll also see the crazy guy who was here before they left, still here. Yes, it’s also a little bit grubbier than it needs to be. One extra dose reality is that everyone seems to hate the current mayor. But his and his administration’s ability to manage the city pre-Pandemic was poor. The pandemic has simply revealed the extent to which he was not equipped to run the greatest city in America. Shame on you, BDB.
Fears? You’re going to die. Reality? Everyone’s wearing a mask, they will fine you if you don’t, and while infection rate is still low (fingers crossed it will remain so), it is seemingly very safe. I would recommend you wear gloves, too, though.
Fears? Most people are concerned that they will catch the virus being in a cab. Reality? These drivers are taking real precautions and you can wipe down where you sit, if you wish. We did a very good job, better than almost everywhere else in the US. And we get to benefit from that.
Everyone is Leaving
I know that the fear of everyone leaving New York City is there. People are asking me every day. The reality is that people are leaving. And the reality is that people were leaving before, too. The turnover in New York is astounding. And the trendlines were already that people were leaving high tax states like NY, NJ and CT, California, too- long before the pandemic. The census will lay that bare, if it ever wraps up.
This doesn’t mean that people won’t take their place, as they have. Think turnover. Think delicious, buttery turnovers. Wait. I’m now thinking of baked goods.
The City is Dead?
The fears are that the city is dead and gone, forever. The reality? That is only as true as you make it. You can run and hide. You can move. Or you can roll with it. Nothing ever stays the same. New York will not stay the same. Thank goodness. New York will come back, as it has time and again, and morph into something that fits for the time. Let’s get on with it! -S