On July 4, an Independence Day was in full swing on the rolling greens of the Apawamis Country Club golf course just north of New York City. Hundreds of club members and their guests of all ages – families with young children and teens, elderly grandparents, recent retirees – all came in a crowded celebration.
People hugged and kissed and crowded in confused lines into the cocktail tents. Everyone was maskless, happy and, in the eyes of this stranger who had just arrived from London after two years of exile imposed by the pandemic, madly uninhibited. It all seemed way too normal.
Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the almost total cancellation of pandemic restrictions in late June as New York state hit the 70% threshold for adults vaccinated, New York City has come back – intensely. In June alone, the leisure and hospitality industry added 18,000 jobs and hotel occupancy rates have hit a post-pandemic high. Restaurant reservations are unobtainable again, partly because of labor shortages resulting in reduced service, but also because New Yorkers have returned in droves.
“We’re having the best summer we’ve ever had,” says Bonny McKensie, Managing Partner of Bibi Wine Bar in the East Village. “You now hear a few people talking about the Delta variant, but two weeks ago people weren’t even saying the word Covid.”
New signs have replaced the old ones: “Please wear a mask if you are do not vaccinated. ”In some cafes and restaurants, even the staff have stopped disguising themselves, these restrictions now falling to companies – and individuals – giving an ad hoc and carefree feel to any measures that might still be observed.
Puru Das, the co-founder of Delhi-based design firm DeMuro Das, has returned to New York for the first time since the start of the pandemic to open a new showroom. “I found him so optimistic, especially coming from India,” says Das. “The world will recover and New York is ahead. There was a brief moment of weird dissonance – why aren’t these people wearing masks? – but it is also summer and the weather is nice. It was unbelievable. Brian DeMuro, his business partner, agrees: “I didn’t question it. I plunged into it.
The streets of the East Village and Lower East Side, teeming with bars and young people in their twenties looking for entertainment, looked like a thrilling street party. The smell of cannabis wafted all over the hot summer air (it was legalized in New York in April), adding to the licensed atmosphere.
None of this would seem so unusual without the fact that the city had just gone through 16 months of intense anomaly, with lives shattered by an unprecedented global health crisis. One in nine people in New York has been infected and the city has recorded more than 33,000 deaths. This experience was compounded by an intense social justice movement last summer and layered on top of a busy presidential election.
By comparison, New York now feels frantically normal. “Large social groups tend to do it. They tend to make quick manic turns, ”says Orna Guralnik, a New York-based psychologist and psychoanalyst and therapist for the Showtime docuseries. Couple therapy. “Germany after the war. They had this manic reconstruction. Collectives tend to do it.
Kiss friends and loved ones – and strangers! – again, and relaxing in the deeply normal and sorely missed pleasures of socializing felt wonderful. “It has the quality of a shallow recovery that people cling to,” agrees Guralnik. “But it’s like a tight fitting. Part of the psyche is stretched out in this manic recuperation and the rest of the psyche is trying to catch up. “
With much of the rest of the world still living under some form of restrictions or, in the case of countries like the Netherlands and Israel, reimposing them in the face of rising infection rates, New York – too nice though – also feels like it is. a little in denial.
In a few months, when financial support programs end for good, when offices reopen but some jobs and industries do not return, when the fall brings another rise in infections, it seems likely that the psyche will catch up. – and take a tube.
But until then, the party continues.