A New York day like no other

Where were you when you heard the results of the election?

I’m sitting outside at Irving Farm, a coffee shop on Third Avenue in the Upper East Side. Hanging out at coffee shops is one of my favorite pastimes but this is my first time back since the pandemic started in March. I watch people go in and out of the store, grabbing their cold brews and americanos, while well-groomed dogs slop up the crumbs of croissants on the sidewalk.

Scattered honks and shouts punctuate the usual noise the city. I wonder what they’re celebrating. Somewhere on a high rise overlooking the avenue, I hear a single voice yell out, “Joe Biden wins!”

People start cheering and I cry as joy and relief wash over me. I feel like I can finally breathe; I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I look up and see a young woman directly across from me sobbing, her head in her hands. After a few minutes I put on my mask and stand up, catching her eye. She smiles, puts on her mask, and says to me, “This might be weird, but can I give you a hug?” A guy nearby snaps a photo of us. It feels like history.

Cab after cab drives by, a cacophony of honks. Construction workers slam the sides of their trucks, city bus drivers holler uncontrollably, and a blonde woman in a Bentley pumps her fist. I make my way to my favorite spot in the city, The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, where people of all ages and races are gathered with signs and flags. A man around my age with a weeks-old newborn holds him to the sky, like Simba, as the afternoon light combs through the baby’s wispy hair.

“This is for our kids! This is for our kids!” someone shouts. As the initial shock wears off, people are remembering Kamala. What it means for our kids’ futures to have the first Black, South Asian, female vice president in office. A 20-something near me dances in the middle of the street with a Biden-Harris sign. For once, the oncoming traffic isn’t angered by the disruption.  

I meet up with my brother for mimosas and brunch as the sun shines strongly overhead, wanting badly to be a part of all this. I’ve never seen so many New Yorkers smile. As we sit outside I overhear a little boy ask his mom, “Will Joe Biden’s family be really happy?” “Yes,” she says. “Yes, I think they will.”

Night falls on New York and the shouts become more sparse. We’re overjoyed and we’re exhausted. We’ve hoped and we’ve endured. We will not stop fighting for health and equality. But for the moment, we celebrate, and let the champagne flow over the streets.