Getting Out of New York City

Below is the full, unedited text of a story about a family with a toddler that was able to get out of New York City at the start of the Covid era. Please contact Covid Stories Archive if you would like to use or reproduce this essay, in whole or in part, for your research or writing. Also, please consider sharing your own stories for preservation in our archive.

We left our home in Brooklyn on March 16th 2020. We went to our beach home on long Island and in my head the decision was for two reasons: 1. we had a 2 year old who was in a phase where he wanted to put his hand in his mouth all the time (‘Im tickling my mouth’) and 2. to give the people who couldn’t leave, more space in our absence. Seemed logical though not ideal. I cried as we left the city. I worried for our family and friends. I worried for our neighborhood, for the businesses we loved and counted on. I felt like we might not come home again for a long long time. I felt displaced, even though the decision to leave was our own.

As I watched everything unfold in January and February and March…I knew in my heart that this was a huge and maybe unexpected change of history. It felt really really big to me.

We were alone as a family of 3 from March 17th 2020 until July of 2020. I shopped at the grocery store while my toddler napped. Standing in long lines, outdoors, distanced, in the rain wondering if I would bring home a virus that would kill us all. We ate dinner every night wondering if we would ever get back to our ‘normal’ life. We went for walks and saw people who would not even say hello to us they were so scared that they could be infected by this virus. My happy, funny, outgoing son grew sullen, withdrawn, moody. I spent days literally doing everything in my power not to cry real tears in front of him even though that’s all I wanted to do, cry and mourn. I watched the clock and waited for 5pm everyday to have one beer to soothe my soul and keep the constant nausea that I had at bay. I hoped for an early bedtime just so that I could put another day behind me, instead of looking forward to the day ahead.

It was lonely, scary, and sad. I was angry that the best answer from ‘experts’ was to just sit at home alone and wait it out. It felt like society abandoned us (all of us). I literally wondered if this is what people felt like during times of past horror (holocaust, wars, dust bowl.) I wanted to do everything in my power to give my son a sense of normalcy. Each day felt like an eternity. I felt strongly in my heart that there was something about this whole experience that didn’t ring true. I felt manipulated and angry.

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for preservation in our archive.