Remember Leap Day 2020? I do. It was the day of my most glorious date with myself, trouncing from gallery to gallery, across the highline, getting lost, and then finding myself at The Rubin to measure my existence. It was the last time I was in the city. A pandemic floated in, much in that freaky way the yellow smoke licks at buildings in that T. S. Eliot poem.
With a lot of trepidation and a lot of hope and excitement, I ventured out onto a train and into a city and found myself again at The Rubin, this time with my yoga gal pal, and it was glorious!
I’m pretty good with trains and subways. When the gals used to go to Shecky’s, I’d be the one they followed to get from Penn to the Puck building and back again. (However, D was better with streets—she taught me 1, 2, 3, Little Pigs Make 5 meaning 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Lex, Park, Madison, 5th, , which works only when you remember it and not when you’re standing on a street corner shouting, Pigs! There are pigs! They go to the market!).
Anyway, trains. I was nervous, standing on the platform with my mask on and a magazine in my face. Trains pulled in and out. Then when it was time for my train to arrive, a train pulled in, and I got on. Phew! I got on! It was super clean. I sat. It was super empty. I waited and then listened to the announcements that had been going on since I stepped on the train. Clearly, this announcement was just for me because it sounded exasperated as it explained this was the last stop and the train was headed to the yard. I got off the train.
Then the real train arrived. I got on the train. I used my phone with my electronic ticket app thing. My ten trip I’d bought pre-pandemic had expired and the “good” folks at the MTA did not let me extend it even though they said only essential workers should be using the trains at the beginning of quarantine, which was when my trips were to expire. So I was following rules, and they were being jerks. I bought a new ticket for this one round trip, not knowing if I’d be able to use another ten trip, not knowing if this trip to the city would be a success.
After the train pulled into Penn and I made my way to the sidewalk, I realized I’d done so without touching anything. You can get a whole lot accomplished without touching things with your hands! The first think I touched was the door to the Rubin, and that’s where I found B waiting for me. We were a bit early, but since the museum was empty, they let us in.
First up—origami! I’d followed their instructional video to make an origami lotus and sent it in. On the first floor, there’s a large basin of lotuses, many very advanced and crafty. Hanging from the top floor ceiling all the way down to the lobby are more lotuses. Brilliant!
Then we went all the way to the top to spiral our way down. We followed the arrows on the floor. We saw some exhibits and some remnants of exhibits that had been there but were interactive and so are no longer allowed. Like, the writing desk with all the envelopes was now roped off (last time, I wrote a letter). Like, the photograph of the pile of candy that had looked like a shiny rug (last time, I took a piece of candy). Still, we were in a museum! We were in the city!
The shrine room is still open. They limit it two at a time, which again, was not a big issue because it was pretty empty. We meditated a bit and then headed out to see more of the art. We talked crystals. We talked mudras. We talked how to make the intricate metal statues. We talked awe. We talked yoga. We went to the museum store and talked all things intriguing and interesting.
Then we were done with the museum and up for lunch. We walked to Chelsea Market. The streets are not crowded. This is how S had described it when she was talking me off the anxiety ledge. There are people out. There are no tourists. That makes a major difference.
Side note: When my brother and I completed our Walk To End Alz, we were walking behind some guy in Massapequa Preserve when I was explaining how I had a plan to go into the city. The guy turned around and warned me to be super careful because just last week, a man in midtown was wielding a machete. Oh, ok, thank you giant man who looks susupiciously like a man who would stand in Times Square and wield a machete. My brother told me not to worry about machetes. I figured that I couldn’t let it hold me back since that could basically happen any time in NYC, not just during the pandemic. Remember the slashings of 2016? Yeah, that was terrible. Also terrible: urban machete attacks.
We got to Chelsea Market without encountering pointy objects. We ate Thai. We ordered ice teas that the server warned several times about their being sweet. Omigosh, sweet is an understatement! I got an ice tea with lychee, and it was heaven on a sugar high. The food was delicious. The only drawback was the occasional large truck that rushed by the barrier inches away from where we were sitting, but that also reminded me of yoga in Times Square, lying on the ground with traffic a few feet away (that’s how B and I met, btw, so it all was very serendipitous).
After lunch, we grabbed coffee at a cute shop and walked in circles for a few blocks here and there, finally circling in on the garage where she’d parked. Then I walked back to Penn, again with no pointy objects in sight, and boarded the correct train the first time. I panicked when the doors closed because I couldn’t access my ticket, but then I realized that I had to sign into the app to actually get my ticket to work. Usually, I’m good with technology, but under the circumstances, my lapse is understandable.
Then I got home. I washed my hands for the hundredth time. I changed my clothes. I sighed with happiness and relief and such joy and gratitude. I’d felt so nervous and also so wanting, full of anxiety and full of need. Then I did my best to keep myself and the people around me safe, and I experienced life the way it could be again. That gives me great hope.