It’s been a long sad spring. We’ve all lost track of time. In our desire to distance ourselves, who can remember what they were doing on March 21st? I’ve driven 3,000 miles in the past two weeks, but when all of this is but a distant memory, the 3.5 miles around Prospect Park is how I will remember it most.
I did my laps tonight on my too-small beater bike, the June sun illuminating the thousands of masked faces looping endlessly in the late-day warmth. The 7 p.m. healthcare workers applause has faded to a respectful patter. An all female jazz band honked out a joyous, safe-distance melody as fellow Brooklynites, hungry for any live interaction, paused in their late-day constitutional to soak in the vibes. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through these past three months without the comfort of Prospect Park, be it lonesome in a chilly rain, or gently taking its first steps toward socially distant contact.
Today, NYC recorded 57 new cases of coronavirus, 8 new hospitalizations, and 8 deaths. Pick a random day six weeks ago and New York had 285,000 cases and crossed the 10,000-death plateau. The horror was unimaginable. The reality, surreal. How do we move past this? Who will ever forget the wail of those nighttime sirens? Have we learned anything at all?
America is a big country, 50 states in all! Twenty-two are reporting upticks in infections. In Brooklyn, if you walk out your door without a mask people stare at you. Of course people have stared at New Yorkers for a long time. We pay exorbitant rent to live in shoeboxes with unwanted wildlife and we cannot wait for our overpriced eateries to open so we can fight for a table and help the food business recover and thrive.
There are more questions than answers as the world timidly, but hungrily reopens. There will be no concerts in Prospect Park this summer, but 19,000 are expected indoors in Tulsa on Saturday. Mask not required, sign on the dotted line.
We have many choices, but few mandates. At the beginning of the outbreak Governor Cuomo asserted you wear masks to protect others, not yourself. Perhaps in these days of protest, we can remember that none of us is an island. Do unto others. We have learned how fast badness can spread. What are we willing to do to stop that?