Today’s post is coming at you after a weekend of reflection. After many of my family members and friends have returned to a somewhat (new) normal life in suburbia in states outside of New York, I can’t help but to experience a hint of jealously among many other emotions as we’re heading into Week 10 of being quarantined here in Brooklyn.
For those who are newer around here, Scott and I have been living in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn for over four years. After many conversations of us going back and forth, we decided to stay put in the city over the past two months and plan to do so until orders to stay home lift and move into phases of re-opening.
We’ve had many chats with concerned loved ones, and I get ongoing messages from friends and readers to check-in and ask how things are going here (thank you).
In case you’re someone who is curious about what life is like living in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic, here you go!
You can catch previous reader requests on living in NYC here:
If you read the two posts above, then you’ve already gathered that I have both love and not-so-great feelings about living in such a big city — especially while raising our two-year-old. The opportunities have always outweighed the annoyances (and costs!), however, so we’re still here waiting it out with the best of ’em. For now.
We’ve had family members and friends beg us to flee the city, and the thought of us still being here terrifies them. I distinctively remember going on a walk over two months ago, thinking this might be “it” and this is how our story ends … being locked in our apartment with three pets, a toddler, and limited food. But that feeling of panic only came after those conversations of pleas continued.
So it all got me thinking …
What is life like outside of New York City right now?
Life in NYC looks a lot like what you think a quarantine would look like. (More on this below.) You don’t see a lot of people, and the streets are actually quiet and peaceful — which is a far stretch from the normal crowded atmosphere you’d typically picture or see in movies.
When I see articles and pictures from other areas of the country, life looks a lot more “normal” to me. You can hop in your car and drive wherever you need to go, stores are opening again, and the act of wearing a mask is not required or something that people chose to do. Date nights are a thing again, and you can dine out, go into a store, and work out in a gym, most likely all at specific capacity caps.
Simple things might have turned more complicated, but I have to admit that I have a hard time relating to those who had to quarantine for maybe a few weeks — with full access to a backyard, a car, a pool, and more that you might not realize is a everyday luxury.
Have you driven through a Starbucks lately to pick up your order? Have you received curb-side pickup for your groceries? Have you seen friends or loved ones outside of a public area while wearing masks and distancing at least six feet apart? Yeah, that’s not a thing for most parts around here.
To me, life seems easier for those on the outside of what has been named the Epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic. But then again, life always seems “easier” to me in suburbia as I’m lugging groceries, a stroller, and life up four flights of stairs every day after my mile plus walk home from the store. The grass is always greener, right?
What do people think life is like in New York City right now?
New York City was the second major city to mandate a shelter-in-place status over ten weeks ago, and we don’t have a concrete date of it lifting just yet. Let’s just say that our coveted 1,100 square foot apartment is becoming smaller by the day, and I couldn’t be more thankful for our park nearby that keeps me sane with fresh air and the ability to exercise outdoors.
You see minimal people out, and you better have a mask on while doing it! It’s was illegal to go out without a mask at one point, and you could have been fined if you didn’t comply. As of last week, however, it’s not mandated unless you pose a serious threat to the public. Our parks are open, but are filled with cops patrolling the area to break up gatherings.
Non-essential businesses are still closed. You can visit a local convenient store, limited restaurants for pick-up, and grocery stores, but that’s about it.
You don’t see a lot of activity, which is actually comforting. It means that people are taking recovery from the pandemic seriously and doing their part to help avoid spreading the virus.
Are the numbers unthinkably high? Yes.
Are the hospitals crowded? Yes.
Are the frontline workers the ultimate heroes? Absolutely.
It’s eerie walking the streets of high buildings and feeling like you’re the only one around. I’ve only been into Manhattan twice since the shelter-in-place started, and it was quick in-and-out experience during a run. But man, it was weird.
That said, there aren’t police staking our stoop doors to make sure that we stay inside. We have plenty of food to shop in our grocery stores, and enough face masks, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, and more to go around. We’re okay.
It’s not uncommon to dodge those around you, cross the street to get out of someone’s path, and avoid any contact possible. It’s not uncommon to wear gloves. It’s not common to ride the subways right now, but if you do, at least they’re being cleaned around the clock, which is something that has never happened before.
Most shops and restaurants have limited space as it is. The photo above is what the majority of our grocery stores look like — no room for shopping carts here! The spaces may be tighter, so we have more lines to get in and out of places than before.
It is annoying to be cooped up in our apartment for most of the day, every day. I hate that we’re paying a high rent and unable to experience the city we live in, which is usually the trade off. But, we’re surviving and are doing just fine here.
What is our plan moving forward?
Like a lot of you, we don’t really know what the future will hold for us. Scott’s business is in sports entertainment and event production (mostly overseas), so we’re in a season of waiting it out and re-evaluating everything one week at a time. He also gigs in acting and stunt work. Skyler goes on modeling castings, and I attend blog events in the city from time to time. You can’t just find things like that anywhere, although we have a few cities in mind that do.
Our plan moving forward is to see what life in the city looks like when all of this settles down. We have a timeline in mind, and if we can’t enjoy the city that we sacrifice to live in by dining out and experiencing the culture that drew us here, we’ll move on.
Do we think it’s going to magically return to how it was? No. But, eventually, New York City will recover from this … it’s all just a matter of how long that will take. And hopefully, we’ll be here for it when it does.
So that’s the long of the short of it!
We’re in Day 66 of quarantining ourselves here — Week Ten. Our sanity is questionable at times, and that’s to be expected. We have good days where we’re getting a lot done, and we have bad days where we question everything about everything.
We’re living through a pandemic. It’s a lot to process, and we’re just doing our best one day at a time.
If you have any specific questions, shoot them my way! I’ll be back to share more updates when we have them. In the mean time, stay safe out there and enjoy the outings for us all!
I live in Minnesota where things are starting to open up, but honestly lots of people (including our household) are still staying home and only leaving for groceries. Everyone who can work from home still is doing so. We are not seeing anyone (including family) except for short outdoor (6 ft apart) meetings. To be honest I wish the “rules” were clearer like they seem to be in NY. Here in MN they are very vague and subjective which can lead to frustration.
Jackie, I too am in Minnesota and have to say that its time to get back to living. I am getting back out and spending my money so that my neighbors and friends businesses CAN survive this. Yes, I understand that lives have been lost because of COVID-19 BUT the livelihoods of business owners have been LOST too. I think for folks that work from home its hard to see how much this has impacted others lives. I hope that you will see this soon too and remember to support the economy so that your WFH job doesn’t disappear too!
Heather, have you always felt that the restrictions put in place are a good thing? I personally thought it was a good thing for a few weeks in order to “flatten the curve” but at this point I feel like this has become and political game and power trip by the governors. Have you ever felt the way I do? If not, do you mind sharing your opinions on when you think things should start reopening?
Hi Lindsay! It’s such a Catch-22. There will be suffering no matter which way you look at it. With my husband being a small business owner and me leaving my job to support him and his traveling that is required for it to succeed back in February, we are feeling it in a HUGE way. Our lives have completely changed, and we don’t know what they will look like once this is over.
It’s all a balance in what is best for everyone, overall, and no one will know the answers of what that is until time takes its course. I think restrictions were necessary, and if everyone complied at the same time, we would already be out of it. But, obviously that’s living in a world that isn’t reality and we are all just doing our best to get out of it on the other side. I think reopening slowly but surely is the way to go and hopefully the Phase rollouts will help. It does frustrate me to see busy bars and restaurants already populated without social distancing or masks, and I think people who aren’t in the “thick of it” might not understand the effects of what could happen … again. Guidelines and businesses enforcing them are key!
All we can do is our part and hopefully find that perfect balance in supporting local but staying safe. Thank you for reading!
Completely agree with your assessment here Heather. My husband is an essential worker and it’s very frustrating to see major companies (such as the one he works at) not abiding by any social distancing, mask wearing etc. It makes it difficult when so many people are sacrificing so much and major companies aren’t making slight simple changes to slow things down so we can open up small businesses etc.
Hi Jackie! I’m sure it’s confusing with so many “in the middle” rules and policies. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was the same everywhere? But let’s not open that can of worms, lol. 😉 Stay safe out there my friend, and thank you for reading!
Ashley @ A Lady Goes West
Heather! Great post! I think you are doing everything you can to be safe and stay put, while also doing your walks and getting fresh air with runs, etc. We’ve been in quarantine-mode just as long as you guys here in the Bay Area, but we are so lucky to have a backyard and cars and some suburban normalcy in that way. But everything is closed, and it’s not going to be normal here again for a long time. I want you guys to move here when this is all over!!!! 🙂 xoxox
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Hehe wouldn’t that be so fun! You just never know. I know you’ve been feeling the stress of it all, too! Sending hugs to you and that adorable fam! xo
I enjoyed reading your update Heather! I am in Illinois and we are still under shelter in place until the end of May. I work in healthcare, so I get out for work, occasional grocery store and take out. Otherwise, my husband and daughter and I stay put and away from extended family and friends. Some people seem to be continuing to get together with family and friends, but I feel strongly about following the governor’s guidelines (especially being a healthcare worker). I’m praying there are no surges of cases and we continue to see improvements during such a scary time. Hang in there!!
Hi Erica! Thank you for the work you do in healthcare, I’m sure it’s not easy to leave your family right now. Staying smart and living the best we can is all we can do. Praying for you and for all of us to get out on the other side as soon as possible!
Haha it’s been what – six months? I think my family have gone insane lol!
A very inspiring read! You have coped up brilliantly through the pandemic and I hope must have got yourself vaccinated. I got mine a week back.
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