photo credit: Karen Blumberg
This awning of blossoming cherry trees in Central Park is a few blocks from my apartment. We don’t have back yards or hiking trails here in the Epicenter, but the park is stunning at this time of year. There are carpets of tiny blue and white flowers edging mossy rocks, trees hung with huge magenta blooms, like tropical fruit, buttery yellow daffodils, tulips--tiny orange ones with petals gathered tightly, generous purple-black globes, ruffled ones, striped ones. There are waterfalls and lakes and winding dirt paths. There are wooded areas and brightly colored birds.
There are also lots of people.
This has kept me away, during the pandemic. There are plenty of grassy fields where it’s easy to have space. But if you want to take a long walk (I do), there are also lots of fences, where access to clearings is impossible, and unavoidable stretches of road or path, shared with others. And every time I’ve tried to circle the park, during the Time of Distancing, some of those others have gotten too close. The ones with the most entitlement are the runners without masks; there are lots of them, huffing and puffing and sometimes spitting on the ground. Some of the cyclists are maskless, too. These are the folks who need masks the most. They’re breathing hard; their breath travels farthest. Yeah, it sucks to exercise in a mask. It also sucks to kill your neighbors.
Today, it was pouring. So, I figured maybe it was a good time to try to get in a cherry tree viewing, before the blossoms were gone. Maybe the rain would keep folks inside. It did. And the park was glorious. There were people with their dogs, a few other walkers, and some runners and cyclists--but not many. Guess which group was largely unmasked?
I wasn’t rude. I said please. And besides, it’s mandated in New York State now, dude. Your exercise is not more important than our health. “Fuck you, bitch?” Really??
To you, I say, “Go back to whatever state you came from, where you can join the Open America people, and get a haircut and eat a burger in a restaurant and run without a mask.” Because you’re not one of us. We may be in bad shape here, right now, but we’re doing our best to take care of each other. To thank our essential workers adequately. To demand protection for them. To stay the fuck away from each other physically, and to reach out virtually. To ask, what can I do? What do you need? How are you doing? Maskless man, you probably also order delivery every night, and give a non-pandemic tip to the guy who is risking his life to bring you those Thai fried wings. That’s not who we are, in New York. Andrew Cuomo says we’re New York tough. We are. But we’re also New York caring. Get with the plan, or get lost.
I've been blogging since 2010. When I've got writer's block in every other way (frequent), this low stakes riffing to think has been a constant. Over the digital years, I've had a half dozen or so blogs including a travel blog and a reading blog, both on Blogger, and an all-purpose blog on tumblr where I wrote about education, social equity and anything else that sparked me. I also posted some of my published print work on my website. My shit is all over the internet. I'll be using this space for the occasional blog post, now.