A surreal snapshot of a city still asleep
“How are you really?”
That sign flashing over Times Square at 7:24pm (not 3:30am) makes me feel like I’m in some kind of lucid dream.
Earlier that day I had walked through a shockingly near-empty Grand Central Station at 5:50pm on a Monday wondering to myself, Will the saying “it was as crowded as Grand Central Station at rush hour” ever mean anything again?
There were more policemen and national guard than commuters — and no, it wasn’t because they were prepping for a surprise Paul McCartney concert or BMS (whatever that K-pop boy band is called) video — so arriving at Bryant Park was an oasis.
It was open and chairs were set up as usual for folks like me and my friend who just wanted to get together and chat, and there were a good amount of us. It was a glimmer of hope and taste of reality. Yes, OK, I am awake.
We then went to look for a bathroom and for something to eat and bring back to the park, because even if we could find an open restaurant, there is nowhere to sit in one yet. Because why?
The only natural answer was Whole Foods right there on Sixth Avenue. But no. That Whole Foods has been converted into a total online order warehouse — no retail, just an army of delivery guys with those long, awkward bike carts waiting to take fancy groceries to those “safe” inside. It’s getting a little disorienting again…
Then we walked to Times Square, which brings me back to the full-on lucid dream. Offices are closed and Broadway is dark, and we couldn’t find anything open for blocks except a Ray’s pizza (which neither of us eat). Pretty much the only other folks we saw besides delivery guys were those suffering from mental illness, homelessness or just bored somewhat/sketchy-looking folks hanging out (or a combination of all three), and police.
We also saw some folks with loud motors on their vehicles (cars or otherwise) taking advantage of the wide-open, empty streets. What else is there to do if you have no job, services, income or shelter, and you aren’t allowed to do anything?
The above scenes lay bare once again the unjust inequities in our society.
For those of you who don’t live here (or who do but haven’t ventured far), this was the second day in a row I went out a bit farther from my neighborhood.
What I observed not only seemed surreal and somewhat precarious, but at this point utterly ridiculous.
I’m terrible at analogies, but what I kept thinking about is how you want to wait until the fruit is just ripe and pick it then, because if you wait too long it just rots on the vine and falls off. We are getting to the overripe place, and you can see cracks starting to show; and if we don’t do something soon, I’m concerned about what this place will turn into. I’ve complained plenty about the Disney-fying of NYC over the years, but I don’t want to go back to the Times Square era of my childhood, which was a kinda scary place.
I’m back home and awake. I think? Since most of our reality, especially now, is virtual, it’s hard to tell what’s what …
Kristina Leonardi is a nationally recognized career and life coach, speaker and author who for over 12 years has empowered individuals to make lasting professional and personal changes aligned with their true passions and talents while fulfilling their role in the world at large.With a holistic and personal growth-oriented approach, she has helped hundreds of men and women over the past decade improve their job performance, enter or re-enter the job force, change careers, better manage their time and stress, and live happier, more meaningful, balanced lives. Her specialty is working with people who feel stuck or are in transition and can help you clarify exactly what you want to do, identify blocks, issues, and patterns in your way, and offer proven ideas, resources, and action steps to get you there.
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