March 15, 2020

Ah, what a sight! Wide, open space. Shades of blue. Water and air merging.

I craved to stand in front of something that is larger than all of us — humanity — combined. I instinctively knew that it would be the ocean and the sky.

Out of Manhattan. Out of nowhere-to-go Manhattan. Out of the city where the world was closing on us. All of us.

I began working from home four days earlier. The company I work for shut down its NY office three days earlier, having confirmed one employee positive with the virus, for a deep sanitization. I then spent Saturday running errands being mindful of social distancing.

On the outside, pretty much everything looked as usual. People walking dogs, couples and families coming from and going to places except more people wearing masks.

Caffè Panna, a Roman-inspired gelato, affogato and coffee shop downstairs, was buzzing with customers as if nothing had changed. Sidewalk tables at Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place were packed with people enjoying early evening drinks and conversations with friends and lovers.

I thought to myself, “It’s a New York spirit. When something is going wrong, New Yorkers stand up and defy it openly. We come together.” Still, I did not share the sentiment. I had been feeling the slowly mounting pressure. I was starting to feel claustrophobic.

Now less than 30 miles away from Manhattan, on this Sunday afternoon, I was walking through Nature Park and Wildlife Sanctuary alone already feeling much relief and lightness in me.  A not-so-manicured landscape of grasses and bushes on the edge of suburban America.  I saw children on bikes and families sauntering in the sun.

I walked toward the ocean along six-feet-tall Japanese silver grass that is common along dunes. A narrow passage in a gap of the glass wall, I went down and out into a sunny rocky cove. I stood in front of the blue clam ocean and the sky. And I breathed. 

Just as I thought. 

All tensions escaped me.

I sat on a rock facing the water. I felt the warm sun on my face. I sat there with no thoughts.

I was alone but not lonely.

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