Joni Mitchell best summed up my feelings about living in Manhattan, when she famously wrote and sang: “You don’t know what you’ve got/Til it’s gone.”
Tell me about it.
You see, I had serious ankle surgery on June 8 and was ordered to be non-weight-bearing for twelve weeks. In layman’s terms, I could not walk for three months. I sensibly withdrew from the demanding city life to recuperate in the Long Island home of my beloved, endlessly generous sister and brother-in-law. Newly empty nesters, they took excellent care of me and made sure I didn’t mess up my post-surgical recovery. I rested my bad foot on a push scooter. And I hopped a good deal. It was hell.
I finally got a doctor’s clearance to return to my Manhattan home in early September. It was ... surreal, perhaps even more unreal than it felt when I was bedridden in Nassau County.
I sure appreciated my little Stuyvesant Town neighborhood more than I could have imagined. All of it. The people rushing by, unsmiling. The unfortunate street people. The garbage on the streets. Yeah. That, too. I smiled and winked at all of the stuff that I had previously cursed about under my breath.
You know the remarks, part snide or self-loathing, and all fueled by unending despair after we experienced our 2020 COVID-19 hangover, followed swiftly by the new 2021 depression which has been sparked by the proliferation of new strains of the disease, of all those doomsayers?
You know. The city is dead (yet again)! It will not come back THIS TIME. Everyone with any sense is moving to the suburbs. Civilization is over. Get out while you can!
Get Out of Town!
I couldn’t curse those people more vehemently. They don’t know what the heck they are talking about. I challenge them to spend three months out of the city. Then I want to hear them moan about how predictable, dull and quiet everything is out of town, and how much they – just as I did – once cursed the downside of life in the big city.
As a matter of fact, I challenge you all to take it on yourself and voluntarily do what I was forced to undertake: a self-imposed exile for a meaningful amount of time. Here are the Friedman Ground Rules: You must abandon the mothership for a period of time that covers more than season or professional sports team’s season.
I was away so long that the Knicks gave way to the Yankees and Mets and spring turned to summer.