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At the beginning of March, I packed up my life and drove from Chicago to New York City with my dad. We pulled up to my Brooklyn apartment, and in the pouring rain, unloaded the boxes and dragged my mattress up the stairs to my new room. After unloading the car, we walked down the street to pick up sandwiches from the deli and ate them on the living room floor — this was a literal dream of mine, and I could not believe it was real life. I AM IN NEW YORK! The next day, we had breakfast and made a Target run before saying goodbye. He left early afternoon and when it was like college but better because I was in the city of my dreams and classes didn’t start the next week.

My roommate, Lauren, and I both started our new jobs that following Monday. I was ~living~ the dream. I had a morning commute on the subway, I walked through Union Square to get to work (did you know there is a Starbucks on BOTH sides of the park?!), I wandered up and down 5th Ave during my lunch hour and felt wonderfully exhausted at the end of the day just from interacting with people. By the middle of the week, there were whispers in the office about possibly working from home the next week because of Coronavirus but nothing was set in stone. That changed on Thursday afternoon when my supervisor brought us into a supply closet and told us that the office was going to be WFH optional for the next two weeks and not to come in the next day. Little did I know those two weeks would turn into an indefinite 2 months+ of self-isolation.

I moved here with a very specific, idealized life in my head. New York was the only place I was meant to be. I still feel that way even though I can’t do all of the things I imagined like take the crowded subway everywhere, 4AM ultra-thin greasy slices of pizza, Broadway shows with music I’ve had stuck in my head for years, summertime picnics in Central Park and casually running into John Mulaney at a dog park. A few weeks in, I started thinking that I could be isolated almost anywhere and have the same experience because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything other than sitting in my house and occasionally going to the grocery store. However, every once in awhile I have a moment where I think to myself “this doesn’t happen just anywhere.” While Broadway has been shut down for months and most bars are boarded up, I’ve found that New York is still the place I want to be, even during a pandemic. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Reading on the fire escape (even though I’m slightly paranoid the rusted metal will crumble, and I’ll meet my downstairs neighbors right before they have to call an ambulance).
  • Everyday at 7PM, people clap and bang pots and pans for the essential workers who are on the front lines of this battle.
  • The sun glows against the building next to ours at golden hour — it’s magic.
  • Take out/delivery options are endless. Lauren and I take supporting small businesses very seriously so we’ve been able to try wonderful local spots for delicious Thai, Mexican, burgers and incredible bakeries.
  • Speaking of Lauren, I’m so incredibly grateful we are isolated together because there is no one else I can imagine binge watching all TV with while eating cupcakes and drinking red wine in our poorly lit living room on the IKEA couch we so proudly put together during our first weekend.

Here are some heart-warming observations I’ve seen on my walks around the neighborhood:

  • Parents reading and doing homework with their kids outside on the steps up to their apartment.
  • Our neighbor isn’t going to let stay-at-home orders keep his son from practicing for next basketball season. (I’m just a little concerned the boy is going to shoot a basket next year and be very surprised when it’s not 6 feet off the ground).
  • Two friends volleying a tennis ball back and forth in an empty parking lot.
  • Three guys playing guitar on their brownstone steps and someone else singing along on the sidewalk.

Sure, you can find most of these things anywhere, but they are just a little sweeter for me because I’m in the city I always hoped I’d be right now. Life hasn’t stopped. It just looks a little different than I imagined — still beautiful. I hope you’re all healthy and safe. ❤

Originally published at https://medium.com/@christine.michelle/i-moved-to-nyc-and-it-shut-down-4-days-later-83a21cce0832 on May 12, 2020.

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