The Empty City Streets Of Quarantine: I Miss My City


The city streets are empty, available and free on my walks to work at 6am. When I have an evening shift the same eerie scene greets me as the sun fades behind the cityscape. As I walk freely past the normally crowded thoroughfares of my home city, I meditate on the silence that’s only interrupted by the occasional siren or mid-size sedan cruising past. Despite the isolation that I’m forced to embrace in these moments, I am far from alone.

People begin to wake up from their slumber as I walk along the sidewalk. Windows light up sporadically. A day of uncertainty lay ahead for everyone. I like to believe people are still getting a good night’s rest, but that seems less probable since no one knows what is going to happen day to day. For me, sleep has always been difficult, but now it’s a miracle if I rest my eyes more than a few hours at a time. It feels like I could use some “help” from drugs or alcohol, but I know those don’t work and I’ll toss and turn more if I’ve been drinking. My mind wont shut off. The only thing that helps is the writing. It’s my saving grace.

Usually, by the end of my walk, I start to notice people out strolling with their dogs or lovers by their side. People cover their faces with masks. I feel robbed of their expressions. But I know that these impediments aren’t blocking anything. They represent a collective concern for other humans and for one’s own health. So, in a way it’s the ultimate representation of the human species. It shows me enough to remember that we are still the thinking, feeling, fascinating, selfish, compassionate animals that I find so entertaining.

Recently, I have been listening to classical music on my ventures. I find it soothing and reflective and it leaves the thinking part of my brain alone. When I let my mind wander, I’m reminded of sitting in coffee shops or dive bars with friends where we solve the world’s problems. I reminisce about laughing so hard at a comedian’s jokes that my stomach and face hurt when the show is over. I can’t wait to be locked arm in arm with strangers at a concert screaming lyrics to punk songs or grooving in awkward movements to smooth bass riffs as we gather in our collective consciousness.


People trickle out of their houses as the blood orange sun peeks over the trees and rooftops. But the hushed city remains, and it feels lifeless in many ways. I hate traffic but I love to know that other people are moving, and things are happening. If you don’t live in a an urban area, you might not understand or agree, but the vibrations of tires and sounds of horns and rhythms of people gathered to live their lives in a relatively close proximity can be therapeutic. The sound evaporates that deep feeling that life is a journey taken alone.

City Playground

I enjoy my solo trips in a city I hardly recognize with everyone huddled inside. But I miss the madness of large crowds for some reason. I’m in my own purgatory of sorts but I don’t know which option is Hell or Heaven. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the coin. People bring a riveting quality with them that can leave you in awe of the possibilities of life, but they also drag their egos along as baggage and shit in your pool at the first opportunity. In their absence, we have room to ponder and wander with less interruption. In their presence, we can probe and examine and connect. These are all good things.

I misspoke earlier when I said the city is lifeless in quarantine. It’s motionless for the most part but not without life. Lest I forget, the soul is still there, waiting to rush back into my life and make me to forget the pandemic ever happened. I hope I always remember how this feels. For now, we are in self-quarantine to keep to a semblance of order and secure a healthier future for us all.