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"New York is still here, but it is also not"

At Medium, New York–based author Glynnis MacNicol describes the eerie emptiness, but also the quiet beauty, of the city amidst the Covid-19 outbreak. She writes that virus has shut down much of what makes New York what it is: bustling streets, rich social encounters, an endless variety of cultural activities. But the city retains much of its coarse charm, suggests MacNicol; it’s just a matter of learning to love it in a new way: “Now the challenge is how to be a New Yorker without New York.”

The witchy New York hour between yesterday and today is now the New York of all day, every day. A nightmarish bizarro world set to the soundtrack of sirens. Everything is still here, but off. Even as I thrilled to the empty streets — rounding Columbus Circle in an uninterrupted sweep that made me think of the red-tailed hawks I now enviously watch gracefully circling the skies over my neighborhood — I couldn’t escape the ominous sense that the city had slipped its axis. It was the wrong time of year for this empty, the wrong time of day. The sun itself felt in the wrong place, and the light hit at odd angles. The beat of the city was now the beat of an unhealthy heart, lurching unevenly from one pulse to the next.

Image: Coronavirus sunset, NYC. By Eden, Janine and Jim - CC BY 2.0. Via Wikimedia Commons.