Sunday, May 3, 2020

Ramblings from New York City early on a Sunday morning

Morning ramblings….
I think it’s Sunday but these days they all seem the same, don’t they? I hear my owl friend hooting in the distance just like every early-morning.  An owl in Manhattan you say? Well I’m fortunate that I live near a park and trees.  Don’t owls hang out in trees? Of course they do.

When I start my day, I have a routine.  It involves using the power of creative visualization.  First for a friend who is being treated for Leukemia.  Her diagnosis occurred about 3 months ago.  We speak every Saturday morning (I have a calendar reminder to make sure I remember that it’s Saturday).  Each week she tells me what she would like me to visualize:  sometimes it’s that the results of her tests are moving in a good direction; sometimes it’s visualizing her doctor or consultant coming into her room and telling her that things are getting better and she may not need the bone marrow transplant.

Then I visualize for another friend who has been through multiple cancer experiences in the past few years and some serious challenges with her business. I visualize the cancer not resurfacing and her business finding its way.

And I visualize attracting something that I want into my life.

Then I write in my journal expressing all the things for which I am grateful.

One day this past week, for the first time in the 90 days (exactly) since I moved back to New York City, I got an early morning visit from a pigeon.  I was sitting at my desk drinking my morning cup of tea and all of a sudden ‘she’ was there. I usually keep that window open about 3-4 inches. I love to have fresh air come in and there she was.  She had her back to me for the entire 45 seconds of the visit.  She didn’t turn around even when I talked to her; friendly but a little rude wouldn’t you agree?  I was so surprised that it didn’t dawn on me, even though it wasn’t that long after dawn, to pick up my phone and snap a photo.  She left and hasn’t visited again. I hope she will and this time I’ll crumble up some crackers and put them out on the sill for her.  A mistake to feed her you say?  Well, I don’t think so and I’d really enjoy her company once in a while.  I’ve named her HOPE.

My building on W. 82nd street was built in 1906.  It’s a beautiful building with 49 apartments on 13 floors. I’m on 10.  The landscape in the neighborhood allows me to have a view.  As I write to you I’m sitting by the window in my living / bed room. It’s cloudy but I have a clear view up to 84th street, as the buildings are either classic brownstones or low-rise apartment buildings – lower than my building, The Selkirk.  Looking to the northeast, between two high-rise apartment buildings, I can see a sliver of the Hudson River and in the distance New Jersey.  I’ve always loved living with a view of water. 

I just heard a flock of geese fly by.  I didn’t see them and it’s the first time I heard their honking which has replaced the car/truck honking that pretty much doesn’t exist at all anymore at this hour of the day.  Actually, there’s very little of it throughout the day as there is so much less vehicular traffic on the streets of New York.  It’s virtually completely silent right now.

Two times in my life, actually 3 now, I’ve lived with water visible.  Once was in an apartment in Long Beach, New York.  I lived on the fourth floor and had a partial view of the Atlantic Ocean.  That was when I was at an in-between point in my life and trying to figure out a new path for myself.  And then, Hurricane Sandy paid a very angry visit.  I took a stroll on the boardwalk on the day it was predicted she would strike and saw the serious agitation in the ocean.  The waves were really big and so aggressive.  I can still hear the resounding sound of them breaking on the beach. As I think of it, that was another Sunday morning and also the day that authorities requested people to evacuate the area.

I went back to my apartment and packed some basic stuff – thinking that I’d be able to go back in a relatively short time.  Hurricanes only last for a little while, right?  I drove to Manhattan – there was very little traffic on the highways.  So I abandoned my ocean view, at least temporarily I thought, and for the next few weeks, while the evacuation rules were still in effect. But the result was serious damage to many buildings located relatively close to the ocean; there was no power and I had no idea how long it would be before I was able to go back.  I slept on peoples’ couches, borrowed apartments or stayed at the DaVinci Hotel on west 56th street which had become my go-to hotel in New York city.  (It’s the hotel connected to Joe Gs where I host my almost annual Pizza / Drink Thing in December.) I learned that the building I was living in Long Beach in was going to be off-bounds for the foreseeable future. 

I managed to find a nice small apartment in Manhattan and went out to Long Beach to pack up my things (I was living in a furnished apartment so I didn’t have much to move).  I went out very early in the morning.  The police were stopping people entering the town – unless they lived there.  While I didn’t have any proof, they believed me.  There was no power.  It was still dark out.  I used a flashlight to enter the building and walk up to the apartment.  I started gathering my stuff to take it down to the car.  Then I saw the lights of a police car pull up outside of the building.  I got scared thinking that in seeing my flashlight, in that blacked out building, they might think I was a looter vs. a tenant and shoot me – I really thought that!  So I turned the flashlight off and just stood still for a while, my heart racing faster and faster.  Then, they drove away and I got my things out of the building as fast as my feet would carry me down the stairs.

The other time I had a view of the water was when I bought a house in Laval, Quebec – a suburb of Montreal.  The house was only a couple of hundred feet from Riviere-des-Prairies.  I had a water view from my home office on the second floor.  I vividly remember the amazing sight of the river – totally frozen – during the dead of winter.  It was beautiful.
I’m frightened these days by the aggressive movement in many areas of the United States to open up businesses again. Photos I see of people assembled in groups, either protesters angrily demonstrating outside state capitals or of people in nearby places congregating in too close proximity to each other – some not wearing masks or any type of face covering. Oh, I just heard another train in the distance.

For a number of weeks, perhaps more than a month, I have gotten my fresh air by going up to the roof deck of my building – most often very early in the morning when the chances of running into a fellow tenant is virtual nil.  I walk the small area, making my way around the tables and chairs, feeling that I’m at least getting some exercise.  (Would you believe that the air in Manhattan is ‘fresh?’ But because there is so little car and truck traffic the air quality has improved dramatically. My guess is that it’s the cleanest it’s been in the lifetime of most/all long-time or lifetime Manhattan residents).

I’m concerned that there is still too little known about the virus that flies through the air and is breathed in by unsuspecting souls. 

Oh, did I mention that I’m both a visual and audio fan?  That’s why the sounds I can hear, through the open windows of my apartment, mean so much to me. The sound of a train whistle has always fascinated me: hearing it approach and then fading into the distance, quite rapidly, as it continues on its journey. I suspect there are very few passengers on trains right now. But there is the sound of too many ambulances every day.

I’m seriously concerned, as are many of us - which is why I’ve chosen to stay off the streets.  I ordered masks about a month ago.  They have yet to arrive.  I’m hoping they’ll come this week.  Once I have a mask I may start going out for walks in Riverside Park again.  Right after I moved here I started going out on early morning walks – just as the sun was beginning to slowly light the sky.  It’s a little like a big lamp with a dimmer switch that slowly turns until the light is at full power.  (Another train in the distance).  That is except on mornings when it’s cloudy or raining. 
How am I getting food you may ask?  I’ve been using grocery delivery services.  They’ve gotten so much in demand that it sometimes has taken more than a week to get a delivery. Funny.  Yesterday I got a delivery and I had forgotten what I had ordered – it was so long between the order and the delivery. And in the bag were 4 containers of fresh blueberries!  I really like blueberries, and I believe they’re fairly healthy.  But I didn’t realize or remember that I had ordered so much.  So, now it’ll be blueberries multiple times a day, in various forms, before they spoil.

On those early morning walks in the park when I first moved back to NYC there were very few people – some dog walkers, a few bicyclists and joggers.  The section of the park I walked in was up a hill from the West Side Highway and absolutely parallel with the Hudson River.  Flowers were just starting to bloom and gradually, as the winter slipped away, there were more and more birds chirping.  It was special.

It’s sad there seem to be so many people today, on the streets, on the beaches and in parks don’t respect the rules – or the safety of their fellow ‘passengers’ on this planet. And does the 6-foot social distancing really making a difference? It seems like a quite random measurement to me. 
I just confirmed that it is Sunday in New York.  I hope you and yours are okay and staying safe.  I hope I’m wrong about the too-early relaxing of the lock-down rules and it will not cause the numbers of people dying and testing positive for the virus to dramatically increase.  But this could happen.

Thank you for sticking with me this morning as I shared my stream of consciousness.

And, thank you for allowing me the privilege of sharing my thoughts – and the experiences of others, via the interviews – in this column since 1999.  I welcome hearing from you.

Take care.
I look forward to seeing you someplace on the road sooner rather than later.

Stay safe.

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