You Could Say the City was Crippled by Covid-19
You could say the city was crippled. But the subway kept running, mostly empty. There were no blackouts and the shower ran hot. You could say the city was crippled, but the streets were free, all of a sudden. And the air? Incredibly fresh.
Though my job was with an essential business, packing and shipping $300 sneakers across the world, I quit when my girlfriend developed what you might call situational asthma. We thought it was Covid; it wasn’t. That didn’t make it any easier, and those days she seemed like an easy target for the virus. So I quit, taking what felt like the last train out of the city.
In my early twenties, I became an eco-anarchist for two vivid years. More in spirit than in deed, I’d read “Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests”, go dumpster diving behind Earth Fare (twice), and dream about blowing up dams. People would ask how I was doing and I’d answer, “Did you know that 98% of old-growth forests are gone?” That fact blew my mind; still does.
This is all to say that I began to feel that civilization itself was a disease on our planet. I still believe that, deep down. The only difference now is that I try not to think about it. I just want a job and to be happy.
But when the pandemic hit the city like an invisible tsunami, I couldn’t help but get swept away again in visions of a planet free of hierarchical civilization, where skyscrapers sit empty and weeds crack through the pavement. Those early days, if I strolled through Prospect Park long enough, the suddenly fresh air gracing its trees, I could picture it. Is this how it ends?
Then I’d stroll out of the park’s perimeter, grab a $5 pour-over coffee, my savings decimated, and figure out how I was going to get some government money. You could say it grows on trees.
This essay is one among 30 “atomic essays” in 30 days