I’m sitting on my couch bed, near the balcony where I can feel the wind and the fresh air. The baby is good. She’s drifting in a breast-milk tummy-full slumber. She’s smiling. She’s healthy. She’s Life.
Her mommy is looking for a bigger apartment to accommodate her visiting family member(s) and potential baby-care relatives staff. A Real Estate transaction two-and-a-half weeks after giving birth, and her mother here, and her husband in the next room cramming for a two-hour test on Monday. Oy-vey!
Did I mention a pot of veggie curry is on the stove?
Did I mention I haven’t had much sleep since February?
Did I mention I Amazoned some new comfy clothes, a forest green T-shirt dress, a light-weight purple grandma/teacher sweater? And some vitamin C and elderberry gummies?
Did I mention my hobby is online shopping for groceries? That I never “win” the Game of Home delivery? That I place between 20-28 items in my shopping cart, but am always denied? That I do this when I’m supposed to sleep? That I’m obsessed? That I want to figure out how to beat “The System”? That it’s different in NYC than other places, like Southern California. Apparently in California, as attest by my Facebook friends, you can get scallops delivered to your front door and make pumpkin bread with real pumpkin and and organic green beans.
Did you know not everyone’s so lucky?
I wouldn’t know if I wasn’t here.
I wouldn’t know that people live in 500 square feet apartments where there’s no room or budget to hoard speciality items and palettes of toilet paper. If I wasn’t here I wouldn’t know that you can’t pick up wine at a grocery store, that you have to go to a dedicated wine or liquor store–that closed down due to “19”. I wouldn’t know that living near the railroad track and the freeway isn’t looked down upon; it’s sought after. If I wasn’t here I wouldn’t know that landlords rent out apartments that look like crap, that they don’t care about things like lead paint and replacing gross dark green carpeting and painting over the azure blue walls a neutral white. If I wasn’t here I wouldn’t know you need a broker to negotiate an apartment and he charges $5,000. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t know that you can’t snap your fingers and get in a car, that you have to take mass transit where social distancing isn’t possible or practical.
Now that I’m here and not there, I didn’t know how good I had it. I didn’t know that my daughter’s current one-bedroom apartment near the noisy Long Island train is like living in Beverly Hills compared to the dank, dark, dowdy two-bedroom, $2,100 Queens apartment she and her husband just toured, the one that currently houses eight bunk-bedded souls.
Ellen DeGeneres blew it when she called herself a “prisoner” “trapped” in her beautiful Malibu ocean-view home. She meant no harm, but was schooled, and me too.
Truthfully, honestly, my life in California, for all the complaining I do, is much easier than my day-to-day existence here in NYC. It’s just tougher here. Harder to get food. Harder to sleep. It’s more expensive. Less peaceful. Harder to get around——to escape.
I am spoiled. There’s the truth of it. I like getting in a car and driving five minutes to work. I like living near the ocean. I like having a backyard and a front yard. I like having an army of loved ones around me in good times and bad.
This place, this city with a gigantic heart, is teaching me something I would never understand back home. NYC and her Golden Apple is teaching me to be grateful. NYC is teaching me to focus on The Good. And remember the sweet times, the musicals that I normally always see when I’m here—-and will see once again in the future. The way New Yorkers, my daughter and son-in-law, and soon Millie too, pull up their boot straps and get it done. New Yorkers are beasts and I’m a wuss.
Living in NYC for a month now, crashing in my daughter and son-in-law’s living room while I and participate in daily rituals of caring for a new baby, has been a lesson in self and environmental awareness. I am completely out of my element. I am sleep-deprived, like the new parents, and totally and completely in love with this new person.
She looks at me, with her Winston Churchill grimace or her gummy-mouth smile, and I realize it is all worth it—every single worrisome CV-19 Press Briefing moment.
I am not home. Don’t know when I will return. Nothing is predictable. But I am where I am needed. Or where I need to be. On the flip side, when this is all over, I will no doubt look back at this time and realize that of all my years on Planet Earth, this last month of worry and delight have been the best days of my life.
I have been changed, “For Good”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHI3tkrZSts