Back to normal? | Opinion

Like so many Floridians, I come from a place known as the “city that never sleeps” — New York City. Frank Sinatra even sang that he wanted “to wake up” in that city. New York is not the only place that warrants the sleepless description. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and overseas, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires also meet the criteria.

What does the name mean?  It’s a place that’s action-packed. If a visitor wanted to do everything there is to do, there would be no time for sleep. Before 2020 and COVID-19, New York City was the go-to destination for travelers and visitors from all over the world. The virus changed that and who knows if the city will ever return to what it was.

The city and the people have changed. It’s true for cities all over the world, but it hits hardest for me because it’s the city of my birth. There’s a cliché about rats deserting a sinking ship and in some ways, it’s an apt metaphor for what happened as New Yorkers became ill and the attractions of city life dwindled.

Restaurants closed. Businesses shortened hours. Theaters darkened and even the infamous city traffic abated. Photos of previously crowded pedestrian streets showed empty sidewalks. Apartment dwellers who were able to leave high-tailed it out of the city to suburban residences. Schools and offices shut down and/or went virtual. When this pandemic is finally over, some of the temporary changes could become permanent or at least partial.

The good news is that some of the changes are starting to reverse as businesses and schools reopen. It’s positive news for some people but not everyone is rejoicing. There are people who dread the return to “normal.”  They don’t voice their concerns out loud but psychologists are seeing patients who are experiencing “re-entry fear.” The reactions to the “normalcy” return are mixed.

The pandemic forced millions of people to hunker down at home. It disrupted family life and even careers but now that employers are thinking about returning their workforce to offices and schools, some returnees are experiencing anxiety and resistance. They prefer working from home and don’t mind giving up the daily commute with its wasted hours in traffic and/or crowded trains and buses. They feel safe and comfortable at home and enjoy the extra family time. When I worked, I liked the camaraderie and socialization with co-workers. but I returned to my family each day without battling traffic and with enough time to enjoy family life. The anxiety about crowded spaces and the possibility of serious illness was not an issue in those days.

Children and teenagers are especially vulnerable to anxiety about returning to school. There is catching up to do and concerns about lost friendships and changed relationships. For shy and introverted young people, resuming where they left off can be stressful. F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) looms its anxiety-provoking head. Reluctant office workers are asking for flexibility from their employers as they make the return and for some businesses, a combination of in-office and home hours will help ease the transition.

For my sleeping city, I predict that the slumber will end and activity will resume as we get this virus under control. Maybe it was just taking a nap!

Dorothy Dworkin is a freelance writer and writing teacher in Boynton Beach.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

VIP Societe
Cocktails & Coworkers
Jackets Required
MILF Society
The List