Friday, April 17th, 2020
The beginning and end of each day is when the oddness, the sublime stillness of this time, is most distinct.
Last night, I went home after midnight. Dressed for the cold, I opened my loading door, backed my bike out onto West 21st Street, and marveled at having the entire city to myself. It is no longer unbelievable, but, still totally inconceivable.
The strangeness of these days is increasingly familiar. Another reminder that things change.
Nearly all of our friends were strangers at one point. At the impressive New York Yacht Club on West 44th Street there is a small room, adjacent to the entrance, called the Strangers Room. This is where you wait until a member claims you, at which time you shift from stranger to guest.
Riding down Seventh Avenue, I was surprised that the three gigantic, but not very colorful graffiti tags on Barney’s storefront windows were gone. They only appeared a few days ago. Certainly, a sign that some people are going to work.
Barney’s manifested auspicious timing in closing their Chelsea store. The last of many extensions of their “final sale” ended just a few weeks before the city shut down for Covid. Who got those tags cleaned – the building owner?
South of 14th Street the protected bike lane was blocked by construction barriers. With no traffic there was little point in using the lane separated from cars. I acknowledged the mobile morgues on 12th Street as I passed. The compressor hummed in the cold. They are called “refrigerated trailers,” but I realized they must be freezers.
No one was around in the Village, and only every third change of lights from red to green yielded even a single car. Village Cigars at Sheridan Square was open. Could they be an essential business? Drugs are needed to maintain a type of order in many cultures. Regular drug stores (a.k.a., pharmacies), liquor stores, coffee shops, and other generic smoke shops are all open. That and some pizza, might be all that most people need.
The last part of my ride, typically the part where the streets are totally deserted, offers a chance to shift my route. I turned east on Vandam, a westbound street. Riding the wrong way allows you to see everything differently—from a new angle. These days, no one is ever coming toward me.
I am happy it is Friday; this day still has meaning in my week.