How the Pandemic Has Changed Me And My City

There is nudity everywhere. Weird way to start a blog post, especially as I know I haven’t written as much as I had hoped to over the last few months. Let me tell you what inspired this post.

Last Saturday, I crossed the street and walked three blocks south and made a quick left and entered my nail salon. My hands were sanitized, my temperature was taken, and I was given the ok to choose a colour. While I sat there in my mask, trying to read and relax, there were two women who were also getting their nails done contributing to my non relaxed state. Neither woman wore a mask, and they were facetiming a third person in the nail salon. This is irrelevant to the post, but it was really fucking annoying.

What is relevant to the post, is the fact that neither I, nor any of the kind women working in the salon felt brave enough to say anything about these women not wearing masks. (I’m projecting how I felt onto them, but come on, it’s not an unreasonable guess with everything going on in America right now. If the women weren’t going to wear a mask despite the sign on the door, and 2-3 signs inside asking kindly for patrons to wear a mask, why would asking politely (albeit directly) change anything?

Anyways, as I am sitting there, attempting to relax despite the noise occurring around me, and my rising anxiety from these women not wearing masks, a man walks by with his genitals out. Not in a casual way either. I’m talking like he’s not wearing a shirt and has LOOK AT MY D*** written on him in white paint above his well d***. Sorry, I can’t justify typing that out as my family reads this. I turned my eyes quickly of course, and have seen much worse things in NYC but it was unpleasant nonetheless.

I make my way from the nail salon over to 8th ave, which was less than a 5 minute walk, and I’m the only one walking down the block. There’s scaffolding everywhere, so it’s actually quite dark and covered. A bunch of hotels in midtown, that once were filled with bustling tourists from around the world, are now filled with former inmates from Rikers and have become homeless shelters. The people living there crowd the streets, and there are groups of men everywhere. On a normal day, men make comments towards me, and sometimes I even catch another woman around me looking at me rolling her eyes, as if to say “ugh, why can’t we walk down the street in peace?” However, as I am the only one around under dark scaffolding on an almost empty city block, I clutch my bag a little tighter, mace hanging from my keys in my hand, ready to have to defend myself in case one of these groups of men decides today won’t just be the day they start making lewd comments.

As if I wasn’t traumatized enough at this point, I finally get to 8th ave and in a 5 block span from near Penn station, it’s a mess. There are again, groups of men hanging out outside closed shops and McDonalds. Some are in various states of undress, some are passed out in a drug or alcohol induced state, and some are actively buying drugs and shooting up in front of my very eyes.

I think the icing on the cake though, was as I was walking into Duane Reade to buy a card and bag for a baby gift, was the woman laying on the concrete with her breasts out, legs in the air on her back and the random man that came up to her, simulating intercourse. Sorry to be so graphic, but why is this happening in NYC in 2020? The answer of course, relates to the Pandemic and other happenings in NYC.

For the record, there were police everywhere. None of them (maybe one or two out of the 15/20 I saw) were in masks. If the NYPD isn’t wearing masks, or enforcing mask wearing, why are people who don’t want to do it going to wear them? They’re not is the answer.

After I came home, quite rattled, even though i was trying to not let everything get to me, there was another man who actually came up to me on my corner and started making a cross with his hand on his chest, saying how beautiful I was etc. Some homeless lady, who is always outside our building and I give change if I have, started yelling at him “cut that shit out, leave her alone, fuck off, etc.” I felt grateful at that point. It was a very long 2 hours in midtown manhattan.

Since I started this post, and walked away from it for a few days, there has been no shortage of nearly traumatizing incidents in our neighborhood. Perhaps most significantly, there was a stabbing half a block from us, and the man died and the entire street turned into a crime scene and we weren’t allowed to get out car out of the garage. I know that NYC isn’t always as beautiful and glitzy etc as people make it out to be, but I also have never felt this unsafe before.

There are so many groups of men hanging out outside our building, I no longer go outside by myself if I can avoid it, but definitely not after 6:30 at night. Some days I even get nervous to run to Duane Reade which is exactly one block and one avenue.

I wish I could say this is a solely Hells Kitchen issue. But it’s not. From the UWS down to Chelsea, these incidents are not isolated and they driving New Yorkers from their city in droves. We are not alone, escaping to New Jersey, where we can pay $1000 less and have an extra bedroom, bathroom, pool, car etc.

If this post was hard to read, believe me it was hard to write. I hate to see the greatest city in the world (debatable, but believed by many) in a period of epic decline. I worry constantly for the restaurants that will have no option but to close in October when eating out in the street ceases. I worry about the people that lived paycheck to paycheck, and suddenly have no paycheck at all. But truthfully, I mostly worry about myself and fearing for my safety is not a way to live when we have the option to leave.

I hope one day I can write a love letter to NYC, and tell you all the good memories I’ve had over the past 5 years. But right now, it’s time to go.

xx

j

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