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  • Ruth Walker

If Manhattan isn't a ghost town, can it still be boo-tiful?

Halloween in New York was a little different this year. I didn’t get spanked at a kinky dominatrix party. And I didn’t share a Sex and the City moment with a drag Bo Peep. But (I wondered) if Manhattan isn’t a ghost town, can it still be boo-tiful? Ahem ... It started, as these things often do, with a desperate need to escape the claustrophobia of a pocket-sized apartment, my paltry slice of Manhattan real estate shared with a hungover roommate watching Sleepy Hollow at a volume that was probably illegal. The sky was the kind of clear, cerulean blue this city does so well; the sun a bold, ballsy yellow; a scattering of fluffy clouds bobbing on the skyline. I threw on a sweater and left. But, after about 20 minutes, I realized I should have worn gloves. Damn! Burrowing my hands into my sleeves, I kept going, striding purposefully towards the park, shivering. I called an old friend on the way, on the off chance that she was free, and we grabbed coffees as we walked together, catching up after months of isolation. It felt good. As we neared Bethesda Fountain, the concentration of costumes became greater. Dogs dressed as pirates. A mother-and-daughter Leia duo. A family of Ghostbusters. Plenty of princesses. Some Stormtroopers on scooters. And a brilliant baby RBG. Banned from trick or treating in the traditional sense, and stir-crazy after 48 solid hours of torrential, apocalyptic rain, New Yorkers had taken to Central Park in their thousands in a joyous display of kooky creativity, for no other reason than a defiant sense of fun.  After six months of pandemic hell; in the face of illness and financial hardship, home schooling, heartache and loss; and as we march, headlong, into what must be the most anxiety-inducing Presidential election of our times, New York went out and, in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, they danced (in the case of the giant inflatable T-Rex, literally). Whatever this week holds (and I remain hopeful that it holds change), keep dancing, my friends. For those of you who have a right to vote, please do it – if not for yourself, then for your BIPOC/female/LGBTQ+ friends and allies. There has rarely been more at stake. Also, this is where I admit to not taking a single photograph. However, if you're open to having nightmares for the rest of time, watch this. You're welcome. Now, back to the dancing T-Rex.


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