In-person appointment at the fertility clinic. Soho location.
This was the first time I took the PATH into the city, to WTC, or had even been downtown in general, since March 16th.
From day one of NYU freshman year, I don't recall more than two weeks passing where I was *not* in NYC.
I've lived on the other side of the Hudson since graduating and have always worked in Manhattan post-grad, save one year. Most of my social engagements took place in the city for my first decade post-college, and still did, though life makes one much less social over time.
Having worked in the WTC for 4 years, Towers 1 and 4, before the Pandemic, and this being my first "commute" since March, I must say it was eerie. First, it was strange to see people again, other than my local grocers. On the train, passengers had the luxury of an entire bench/row, as no one was commuting. Social distancing (what I'll refer to to as previously craved "personal space," something unknown/impossible in New York City) was of utmost importance. It was nice to see people...there were barely any people to see anywhere. There were the essential workers, and the rest of the Metro area had fled to greener pastures months ago.
Entering the Oculus from the PATH, my heart was happy to be back. But the feeling was momentary. Instead of taking my usual right to work (or prior to that, a left to work), I am actually exiting the building. I don't want to leave the building. I am going straight; I am cutting underground to Fulton; I am taking the subway. I don't like how this feels.
I was still technically employed, but regardless, I mourn the loss of work, and here, especially. Here, you did not have to face the harsh realities of the outside calamities to get to your office from the train. Here, (a theory that I have yet to look up), the lighting is engineered to make you happy (like light boxes on fleek), the white floors and walls — blank minimalism, the constant cleaning to keep surfaces shiny and bare to keep you calm. The structure's ceiling is meant to mesmerize, to distract, oddly fascinating novel views if you crane your head upward from different angles toward the slitted-sky windows. And then there is the air. The air is intentional, similar to the oxygen pumped into casinos. Everything is meant to make you high and happy 24-7. To never want to leave. It was a nice 12-minute commute, a peppy, energetic transition from train to work back in the day. The days before Covid-19.
All of this white space had been my second home, maybe my home. Did anyone (in this metro area) live in their actual dwelling, spend that much time inside their own apartment or house walls before Covid? I know plenty of people did. It's just, I hadn't. I lived to work.
Everyone in my industry — we went home to sleep. I spent more time in these white walls of the Oculus and 1 & 4 World Trade and underground in Brookfield since 2016 than I had spent in my house or in my favorite areas of NYC itself (as in, far away from this micro-climate area tourist trap around this structure).
SoHo was empty when I emerged from the underground on Prince Street. I felt free, like I could pull my mask down and breathe in (however-polluted city) air. I could inhale because no one was there. I could stop on the sidewalk and stare for days because no one would be in my way and I wouldn't be in anyone else's way. Because there are no people. Yet, this freedom is overshadowed by an overwhelming sense of absence. You could walk up Broadway for 10 minutes without passing a human being, even though the weather was gorgeous. The retail stores weren't open yet, if they had not already closed their doors for good. This eerie feeling; it was death.
Construction was the only action happening, and even that seemed lull, inobtrusive and mild in comparison to its action in Jersey City.
Everything was on mute.
After a temperature check (94.3 - how is that normal? I was sweating on the walk from the subway being that it was July in NYC. Still, no one cares if your temperature is low. I'm probably dying of something else but it's not Covid, so who cares?) and questions about my whereabouts, I hand over my insurance and take a seat. Dr. L was a much quicker wait than Dr. Miracle, maybe 15 minutes. Dr. L did not care for any of the paperwork from my doctor. She needed to do everything again, herself. While this was slightly annoying, I'd absolutely be that same beyatch, and am that person, when I am boss; I need to see everything and analyze it with my own eyes. After another sonogram and 7 vials of blood, I was free to go.
I had to view apartments that day and it was Friday in the summer. I didn't give much thought to any of this visit after the fact. Except my sadness for NYC. There was no life. No people; no noise. It was surreal. Radio silence.