Confrontation in city life

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Early evening tête-à-tête. Photo: JH.

Thursday, May 14, 2020.  Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day in New York. Temps were in the early 60s and the great cumulus clouds gave wide berth to Mr. Sun. There’s still a passing chill in the air.

The day just past. These stay-at-home days remain an oddity, at least in this single dweller household. Although I shouldn’t say “single” considering the crew, three of whom got spiffied up for summertime this week with a wash and a cut. Next for a haircut is this writer. It’s been eight weeks and now it’s well over my ears. I’m reminded of the early ’70s when it was a lot longer which was “the way it should be” back then. Now, however …

Re the dawgs and the Sun. On the walks down by the river this noontime there was a lot of moving activity – walkers, runners, bicyclists, couples, friends, family. It looked like a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon. And it was Wednesday. Okay; Again, the evidence that the city is beginning to stir. It’s easy to comprehend: we’re social animals; we need each other. It’s a requirement for a healthy life, like good nutrition. These times are serving to remind us.

The days are still an oddity. It’s all in my head, I know, but when one is solo, the aria is definitely enhanced by the solitude. All writers are dramatists, particularly of The Self, no matter how they’d describe it. 

These times I finish up the day somewhere around midnight. After we go online I stay up, maybe read, maybe write (emails), walk the d’s, and turn in around one. Since the lockdown I’ve been sleeping in, getting up about ten. This is new for me but not uncomfortable. Then at my desk I read some more, all the sites that I check out daily, mainly financial and news. I can’t complain about things in my life, but I know a lotta lotta people out there who can – and one day will if we don’t take care of each other. This pandemic is providing us with an important warning.

The morning sked is the same, just an hour or two later. Get the paper, make the coffee, turn on the computer to see the mail and check out what’s going on in the world – the markets, the opinions, Page Six, the Post. Ordinarily, I’m usually out of the house by noon or shortly thereafter. Ordinarily the city requires time to get around in the heavy daily traffic by vehicular, cycle, or on foot. And that is every weekday in New York, rain or shine, hot or cold. Except for right now.

Now I have no obligations on my calendar, unlike the past times of  appointments — luncheons, interviews, dinners to be kept. Now it’s been no-place-to-go. Literally. I always have enough food for my breakfast and lunch. I go to the market; that’s my getting out to get a look. I make my bed and vacuum with my new Dyson vacuum cleaner (I know they call it something else) that my ex-wife Sheila sent from out of the blue a few months ago.  I wondered if she were trying to tell me something about my apartment that she hadn’t seen in several years. Anyway, it is amazing, all good; Sheila was right again.

Yesterday after the d’s had their walks, I took little Ray, solo. Ray’s an old guy – about 16 – and he’s in pretty good shape. He came to live with us almost four years ago from a kill shelter in South Carolina. His life had obviously been turned upside down. But he’s a solid little guy. Must have had a good mistress or master. Well behaved, hardy appetite, perfect eliminations both 1 and 2 (and can hold it until outside … unlike some other guys I’ve known).

Waiting at the elevator with Ray under one arm, having adjusted my mask so that it covered properly, the elevator door stopped and opened and a young-ish woman (I’m guessing since I couldn’t really identify her face), wearing a mask, about to exit thinking it was the lobby, stopped at the door and said: “Would you mind if I have this elevator alone.” 

She didn’t ask; she said it. I replied, “no, I am getting in the elevator,” after which she said, “then I am getting out, asshole!” And she got out as she spoke. Now in the elevator and having pressed the button, I responded: “idiot.” Although I think the door had already closed and we went to the lobby. 

Now that kind of confrontation is new in city life. I am not sympathetic to those who feel everyone must accommodate their fears as fact. We all have them in trying times such as these, even the best of us. So, life went on. Ray, who is a real champ, had his four minute lift-a-leg (compared to the other guys’ four thousand lift-a-legs), and did everything else he had to do and I took him home.

Other pet parents and their best friends …

On my way upstairs, I picked up my mail which included a handwritten envelope with penmanship that looked familiar. It reminded me of a letter I received a couple of years ago from a neighbor who didn’t identify herself except to say she read the Diary daily, and followed it since the beginning. This is always a great compliment to me and to JH. In that first letter she wrote about the neighborhood we shared, and in such a way that she knew it would be of interest to me.

When I got to my desk and opened it, it was indeed, again, a second handwritten note from my neighbor and addressing me fullname. Firstly, a handwritten note or letter is a rarity in life now as you know.  It is therefore precious in and of itself because visually, for example, the penmanship is the art for the eye, a reflection of a different attitude about the written word. And then its content is the soul of the message.

Her message was very flattering. And I love flattery as much as anyone. Maybe more; I am a Leo and I hear they love flattery. I take it for what it is, but it’s good for the head — even if for a passing fancy — like a brief ego-lift; especially in times of distress.

I’ll do anything,  I said to myself on reading that, and so I have; here’s to today’s “anything.” We all, or the most of us no matter where, can’t wait … like my wonderfully kind neighbor.

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