Anaya Jethani

I failed to find anyone outside on the walkway near my house. A path once filled with different families in my neighborhood was now empty, leaving me and my family by ourselves. Ever since I was young, this walkway has connected me with my friends. Now, it was empty.

I remember the early days of COVID were bleak and grim, but my mom made sure that we walked in order to substitute for all of our sports that had unexpectedly come to an end. It was disheartening to see a lonely town with no one in sight. Likewise, instead of the bright lights, New York City was covered by clouds and fog -I looked across the Hudson River to find all of the lights turned off in the “city that never sleeps.”

Despite this, I continued to go on walks with my family. These walks were our only sense of freedom and escape from our home that was growing more confined each day. As the weather grew warmer and the daily COVID cases grew smaller, more families started to emerge from their homes and walked with us. My family and I were able to see many familiar faces and were able to communicate face to face for the first time in several months.

Throughout the summer, I even met new people in my neighborhood through the walkway. During the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in June, I helped kids on the walkway inform people in our neighborhood about the movement through chalk. We drew faces of the victims who faced brutality and important statistics. I was able to connect with new kids since school and it felt good to be a part of a change.

I remember one night I looked across the Hudson River to find the city lit up again. Every light was on in every building, and it looked as though the pandemic had never happened. It seemed as if everyone’s world was filled with brightness once again.

The walkway was full once again. And so, it seems, was my heart.