On July 4, an Independence Day party was in full swing on the rotating greens of Apawamis Country Club golf course just north of New York City. Hundreds of club members and their guests of all ages – families with children and teenagers, elderly grandparents, recent retirees – had all come out in a packed celebration.
People hugged, kissed and piled up in intricate lines at cocktail tents. Everyone was unmasked, joyful and, in the eyes of this foreigner just arrived from London after two years of exile imposed by a pandemic, wildly uninhibited. Everything felt too normal.
Since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the near-total abolition of pandemic restrictions in late June when New York State hit the benchmark of 70 percent of vaccinated adults, New York City is back – intensely. Only in June, the leisure and hospitality industry added 18,000 jobs and hotel occupancy rates have reached a post-pandemic peak. Restaurant reservations are impossible to get back, in part because of the lack of manpower that causes reduced service, but also because New Yorkers are returning en masse.
“We had the best summer we’ve ever had,” says Bonny McKensie, managing partner of Bibi Wine Bar in East Village. “I hear a couple of people talking about the Delta variant now, but two weeks ago people didn’t even say the word Covid.”
The new signs have replaced the old ones: “Please, wear a mask if you are.” no vaccinated. ”In some cafes and restaurants, even staff have stopped masking, with these restrictions now on companies – and individuals – giving them an ad hoc feeling, free from all the measures that might even be observed.
Even Das, the co-founder of Delhi-based design company DeMuro Das, is returning to New York for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic for the opening of a new showroom. “I found him so optimistic, especially coming from India,” says Das. “The world will get over this and New York is ahead. There’s been a brief moment of strange dissonance – why don’t these people wear masks? – but it’s also summer and the weather is beautiful. I’ve been amazed.” Brian DeMuro, his business partner, agrees: “I didn’t question him. I’m immersed right away.”
The streets of the East Village and the Lower East Side abounding in bars and twenties looking for fun, felt like a throbbing street party. The scent of cannabis fluctuated everywhere in the hot summer air (it was legalized in New York in April), adding to the licensing atmosphere.
None of this would feel unusual, but due to the fact that the city had just experienced 16 months of intense abnormalities, with lives unraveled 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. That experience was exacerbated by an intense social justice movement last summer and overshadowed by a full presidential election.
In comparison, New York now feels frantically normal. “Large social groups tend to do this. They tend to make quick manic turns,” says Orna Guralnik, a psychologist and psychoanalyst who practices in New York and therapist for Showtime docs. Couple therapy. “Germany after the war.” They had this manic reconstruction. Collectives tend to do that. ”
Embracing friends and loved ones – and strangers! – Again, and relax in the very normal pleasures and many lack of socialization will feel wonderful. “It has the quality of a superficial recovery that people are attacked,” Guralnik agrees. “But he’s like a slinky. Part of the psyche is stretched forward in this manic recovery and the rest of the psyche seeks to retreat. ”
With much of the rest of the world still living under some form of restriction or, in the case of countries such as the Netherlands and Israel, putting them back on the brink of rising infection rates, New York – however pleasant – also feels a bit in denial.
In a few months, when financial support schemes end for good, when offices reopen but some jobs and industries don’t return, when autumn brings another increase in infections, it seems the psyche will reach – and take over a success.
But until then, the party is on.