8 Things We Hated About New York Until 2020 Happened

Photo of author

By admin

The arrival of the coronavirus in New York City at the end of last winter upended everything we did, thought and talked about. That friend who was always 15 minutes late to everything? Now many of us actually fantasize about sitting in a cramped bar, waiting for him.

We grew to deeply appreciate so many things we used to loathe or dismiss or identify ourselves against — things that were uncomfortable, inconvenient or offensive to certain aesthetic standards we had set for ourselves.

But we have been humbled. We have come around. Mostly. Not on everything, but at least on a few:

Whether it was parades or buskers or street performers of some other variant, New Yorkers could find themselves annoyed when their efforts to walk 15 blocks, say, in precisely nine minutes, were interrupted by unsolicited entertainment. The coronavirus changed all that.

Now the impromptu orchestral and choral performances that turn up on sidewalks and stoops bring tearful joy — a gratitude for all the creativity and artful innovation that animates New York. Time has slowed down; interruptions are met with excitement. Most of us looked forward to the banging of pots outside windows every night in the early days. Noise, typically a nuisance, has become a sign of life and hope.

Back in the days when you used to get up every morning and go someplace, you dressed like you meant it. You were a grown-up and you were living in New York City. You had skirts, maybe some ties, a handbag or jacket you might have saved up for — probably even shoes that covered your heels (and kept the shoe repair shops in business).

But if the pandemic left you working at home, you were suddenly destinationless, and your daily uniform got cuddly enough to suggest that the only thing you were missing in your Zoom meeting was a stuffed koala. Did you even know how many different kinds of sweatpants there were in the world? Or styles of Birkenstocks? Now you can’t imagine going back.

It is notoriously hard to get rid of big things in New York City. So it is not uncommon to see air-conditioners, printers or old TVs on the sidewalk with signs that say “Free.”

Neighbors generally don’t love what is essentially visual pollution — a self-serving exercise in decluttering because someone just can’t wait until the day that the sanitation department picks up bulky electronics.

Early on in the pandemic, though, working refrigerators began popping up in neighborhoods around the city, offering something free that was actually needed and valuable: bread, milk, eggs, fresh produce and so on. As food insecurity has soared around the city, these community fridges became just what you hoped to see.

In the 1980s and ’90s — the bad old days of the city — encountering a plexiglass divider in a store was often something that triggered anxiety and discomfort. The shields, which frequently turned up in liquor stores, signaled that you weren’t in the safest retail space — that the cashier was guarding himself from a potential spray of bullets.

When the Covid-19 crisis came along, plexiglass dividers — typically erected at the point of checkout — had the opposite effect. They were exactly what you wanted: an effort to protect workers and shoppers from an aggressive contagion.

It hardly needs to be said that society has not left women to cultivate a good relationship with getting older. Gray hair is an enemy and an easy target in the war to preserve youth. For decades women have been told that if they aren’t coloring their hair they are “giving up.”

But the pandemic shut down salons for a time and generally demanded relinquishing vanity. Many women have realized that they no longer need to spend so much time and money getting their hair the right shade of caramel. Gray is beautiful and a powerful symbol that, amid so much death, aging isn’t a curse but a privilege.

A year ago, who would have wanted to sit outdoors at a restaurant when it was 38 degrees? Now it’s the brass ring: a table on a patio or on the sidewalk on a night when it isn’t frigid but still bracing.

The legalization of heat lamps for commercial use, dining sheds, yurts, plastic igloos and a reimagining of the streetscape have all made what feels romantic and tantalizingly European possible. Now we long to eat outside to see one another safely and keep the city’s vital restaurant industry going.

Maybe you were lucky enough to figure out early on that the tasteful West Elm chair, with the small footprint, that you tucked under your rarely used desk in the bedroom wasn’t going to cut it, orthopedically speaking, for months of working from home.

So you begged forgiveness from Instagram and bought a bleak-looking office chair on Amazon. But you know what? The animosity tamed once your back started sending you thank you notes.

Hard-driving New Yorkers do not drink at an hour many consider the afternoon. Cocktails at 5 o’clock is for Cheever stories. In New York, the custom was to knock back later. If you were drinking at 5, it was probably at 5 in the morning, when you finished your shift.

But the pandemic changed our sense of time, especially in the early days of winter and again now when the light fades so early.

Source link

Leave a Comment