A Year Into This

Some days. when I feel tired, that crick in my neck, I remind myself of the time, at the onset of the pandemic, that I carried a cappucinno, a mocha, a chai tea latte and an iced coffee home. I had to go to Starbucks because Maison Kayser closed. And it looked like Starbucks would close tomorrow.

I balanced the morning drinks in their cardboard holder. I carried them home. Decided in the sunlight walk that I would rent that house in the Adirondacks. And we would escape New York.

So a year ago to the day, I told the kids, “We’re leaving on Sunday. Pack for two weeks. And we’ll take that dog to foster on the way. And if you don’t like it, you can come home to New York any time.”

And then, after a sleepless night, I changed my mind. I said, “We’re leaving tomorrow, Saturday. I don’t know if we’ll get a rented car if I wait a day longer. Everything’s closing. We’ll pick up the dog and not wait for them to drop him off.” The kids argued. They needed more time.

I had escaped once before with children in tow to the town in the Adirondacks. Then, it was 9/11 and the kids were tiny. And the whole way up on the thruway that night, I heard sirens. And when I mentioned it to my husband, who was driving then. (Yes, he used to drive.) “Isn’t it strange? No cars, but still sirens.” He said, “There’s been no sirens on this entire trip.”

I could swear I heard sirens that September night in 2001. This time, this March 2020 night, I heard sirens too in New York City. But they faded as I drove away.

This time, instead, I feared the rest stops. I worried about taking the change from the man at the gas station. I feel guilty for having that fear. I did not know how to adjust my anxiety meter — should I dial it up or down?

After we left, we only returned three months later — my three young adult children and I — we came back to drop off our winter coats and pack up our bathing suits. Those two nights of our June NYC return, the movie theater on Broadway was boarded up, fearful of the Black Lives Matter marchers. I walked by the cinema as I was bringing treats — cookies and flowers and pre-cut mango slices — to a friend’s family whose child was having surgery.

What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic? I learned that I have a knack for escaping New York.

And that New York City is the place to to bring treats — coffee or mango. It is also a place where I hear sirens. I am proud and grateful and guilty that we left. We returned in mid-August. A few waterbugs had moved in. I evicted them. My husband returned from his extended stay with his sister in Florida.

Some days. when I feel tired, that crick in my neck, I remind myself of the time, at the onset of the pandemic, that I carried a cappucinno, a mocha, a chai tea latte and an iced coffee home. I had to go to Starbucks because Maison Kayser closed. And it looked like Starbucks would close tomorrow.

Today, one year later, I balanced morning drinks in the cardboard holder, carry them home. Decide in the sunlight walk that I would not escape New York. Not this year. Starbucks is open, Maison Kayser’s gone forever.

But it is NYC where I will bring you, my family and my friends, treats.

One thought on “A Year Into This

  1. Mary Beth, thanks for sharing this one-year-later perspective. I enjoyed seeing your Instagram postings from the Adirondacks. Like many, we have gained a renewed appreciation for nature during the pandemic. And Riverdale and lower Westchester, we discovered, offers many places to walk.
    Linda Bloom

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