Special Entry – Final Joker
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Tuesday December 1, 2020
This image, a 2019 postcard by John Amber, was going to be sent in early March with one of the first entries; there was a paucity of street visuals when Covid first arrived in New York City. We decided that this image might be inappropriate for that raw time when death filled the air.
More than half a year later, it seems safer to share this image. A reminder of the important truth: We will not live forever. A reality equally true for every person and every living thing on this planet—it’s just a matter of when. (This is an actual postcard; if you would like some please contact Box 3, there are plenty.)
In Covid Entry 24, I recalled the feeling of being lost and alone while biking home one night in mid-April. A disconcerting feeling shot through my body—like when you pick up the phone and, in an instant, sense bad news is coming. For me, it was a feeling of being lost, not knowing where I was, as though my surroundings were unfamiliar. It felt like I was a long way from home riding southeast on Greenwich Street toward a nearly full moon.
I have traveled that route hundreds of times, but that night I felt as if I was walking in unfamiliar woods, when everything is right – body and mind are synchronized, when your stride becomes as effortless as the beating of your heart. Your attention drifts from a fern to the bark of an old hickory to a falling leaf. Then, in a moment, your mind floods with the notion that maybe you are not on the right trail. Or maybe not on a trail at all.
Thinking back, it seems impossible that I could have had such a feeling in the middle of a short commute that was so familiar to me. The cold wind and bare emptiness rattled my sense of place and time. I knew where I was, but had forgotten about the pandemic. Somehow I had forgotten the city was empty and silent.
Luckily, I knew to turn south onto McDougal, and made it home.
In “First Love,” Samuel Beckett used the term “a dispeopled kingdom”.
That is where I was.