We went back to Manhattan for the day to remind Mazzy and Harlow that they’re actually city kids. Also, to go to the dentist. Mazzy was excited to get Joe’s Pizza, use our master shower (it’s newly renovated and beats all the showers in the house) and show Frankie our apartment. Harlow wanted to hang out in her room, reunite with all her stuffed animals and play with her favorite toys. Over the past few months, I’ve realized that Harlow misses the apartment much more than Mazzy. Whenever they talk about where they want to live when they grow up, Mazzy says a small house with a yard and Harlow says an apartment in the city. She had very high expectations for our day.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel to be back there. I was curious how our neighborhood was going to look. Would all the stores around us be closed and boarded up? Would there be people in the streets or would it feel empty? Would everyone be wearing masks? How would it feel to be back in our two bedroom apartment? Would I be excited to see our newly renovated apartment or pissed that we had just spent so much money on something we weren’t even living in?

One thing I knew I would be excited to see? Our view.

It was wonderful to see our favorite doorman outside, who has been working in our building since Mazzy was born. He was behind a new plexiglass wall on top of the front desk. Frankie was a little confused by the elevator, but was super excited to explore our apartment once we got inside. Our apartment looked like a time capsule from when we left in March. There was a leprechaun trap set up on the window sill for St. Patrick’s Day. There was a quote from International Women’s Day on the letter board in the kitchen.

There were signs we made for our Girl Scout cookie stand on the dining room table.

Events from a lifetime ago.

Harlow ran up to the trap, disappointed that in all that time, we STILL had failed to catch a leprechaun. I think it would have been worse if there was a tiny decomposing skeleton in there, but to each their own!

There was laundry in the hampers, mid-year school projects on their desks and Valentine’s Day candy in the cabinet. And I had forgotten that we had sent out our new dining room cushions to be fixed right before all this started, so the banquette was covered in towels as a substitute.

The kids’ room was the disaster they left it in, which is definitely going to be a problem when Frankie moves in. Maybe having a dog will encourage Mazzy and Harlow to keep their stuff off the floor. Harlow ran into the bedroom and immediately started hugging her stuffed animals— Big Bear and Billy Bob and Doughnut. She even hugged a paper panda coffee cup she forgot she had.

Mazzy made sure all of her slimes were still good (they were not), marveled at her large graphic novel collection (“I forgot how many I had!”) and then was very excited to see that the TV still works. Mostly the girls were just happy to be in their space with all of their possessions.

After running from room to room like tourists in our own apartment, we sat down to eat a pie from Joe’s Pizza, which we’ve all missed like crazy. It’s the best pizza in the city, no contest.

In case you were wondering what Mike was excited about— it was to reunite with all his favorite foods. Mike made sure, in the few hours we were there, we got Joe’s Pizza, Mud Coffee and Kanoyama sushi. Then, on our way out, he picked up a big box of goodies from Craft Bakery.

You know how it’s fun to see the world through a baby’s eyes for the first time? That’s how I felt watching Frankie take in the city. I took her for a walk and I’ve never seen her so overstimulated. She wagged her tail and wiggled her butt, as she run from smell to smell, poking her nose in every nook and cranny. She LOVED all the attention she got from strangers.

I should add that the elevator was NOT her jam. I had to literally drag Frankie over to it and then pick her up to get her to go inside. Then, she stood in there the whole time, with her paws spread, as if the floor was dropping out from underneath her. I get it. A steel box hurtling down a vertical shaft is pretty terrifying for a first timer!

Luckily, Frankie recovered and seemed to like our place. She particularly liked our brand new fabulously plush custom rugs and I REALLY hope she doesn’t mistake one for a pee pad.

Frankie also seemed to be very curious about the balcony and we realized that we’ll have to doggie-proof it before we move back. Those slats seem just wide enough to be a problem.

Next, it was time to drive to the dentist. Usually, we would take the subway or an Uber, but we played it safe with the car. It was also a good chance to see how the rest of the city has been affected so far by the pandemic. We noticed our favorite muffin shop had closed down and tons of stores were boarded up on Broadway in SOHO, which was sad to see. A lot of the shops were struggling even before the pandemic, and I’m sure that many of them won’t return. But there were also tons of new outdoor restaurants spilling out onto the streets, the socially distant tables filled with people happy to be outside, which made the city seem alive and well. There were tons of people walking around too, but almost everyone was wearing a mask. The girls actually played a game to find people who weren’t wearing one and I think we found two.

I was very nervous about the risks of going to the dentist, but it felt very safe once we were there. They took our temperatures before entering and gave us hand sanitizer. We were the only patients in there. They actually used a new rubber mouth guard for the cleaning (to protect the hygienist from spit spray) and I liked it much more than just keeping my mouth open on my own. It made the process much faster (because you couldn’t slowly close your mouth) and gave you something to bite down on when it hurt. The hygienist said that many patients said they preferred it to the normal procedure and would most likely keep using them.

After the dentist, we went back to the apartment to have dinner and get our things together to go back home.

Yes, I said “home” in reference to the house. A few people noticed that on my Instagram story. We were in our apartment for all of two hours before the kids started fighting and I turned to Mike and said, “we would have killed each other.” Which, I guess, is why there are so many New Yorkers out on the sidewalks and eating in the outdoor restaurants.

New York City has always been more about outside life, than life inside our apartments. It was nice to see people out and about, acting normal if not for their masks. At night, with all the lights strung up everywhere, it looked almost festive. In normal times, I’d be writing a little note to myself about a spot that looked particularly cool and planning a night out with friends. But, I don’t know if everyone acting normal in NYC should be celebrated or looked at as a glaring indication of how easy it is to slide back to where we were.

I have very mixed feelings about returning in the fall.

My old fear was that the NYC I love wouldn’t be there when we returned.

My new fear is that it already feels the same, but I’m no longer the person who will join in on the fun.

I don’t know. I feel sad writing this. It’s weird not feeling at home in your home. While also recognizing we are very privileged to have the choice.