ALL ARTS Documentary Selects

FULL EPISODE

I See You and You See Me

This film, written and directed by Harris Doran of Queens, is based on material submitted to the Queens Memory Project oral history archive and tells the stories of Queens residents during the time of the coronavirus.

AIRED: June 25, 2021 | 0:59:19
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TRANSCRIPT

[ Subway train rumbling, brakes squealing ]

[ "Wanna Shine" by James Lindsey feat. Otis Junior playing ]

♪ Uh

♪ La

♪ Uh

♪ Magnum opus

♪ Culture shack, held back some shows, came back ferocious ♪

♪ I never left, I just fade to black, came back to focus ♪

♪ Back to back, I made three stacks, met three stacks ♪

♪ Signed back some posters, ain't that the dopest ♪

♪ Bring out the choir, sing like a [indistinct] ♪

♪ Skate past the bogus

♪ Fake ass promoters make cash the motive ♪

♪ Make that the motto

♪ I took it to stride, I made ways to ride ♪

♪ I made past the follow

♪ The gang came to town, the night came alive ♪

♪ And we came inside, the beat raised the vibe ♪

♪ The dark came to light, the dark came alight ♪

♪ Lead you to the light

♪ Even if it's night, baby, baby ♪

♪ Lead you to the light

♪ Lead you to the light

♪ Anywhere you like, baby, baby ♪

♪ I know you wanna shine

♪ I know you wanna shine

♪ I know you wanna shine

♪ I know you wanna shine

♪ I know you wanna shine

[ Wind whistling ]

Cuomo: To reduce the number of people

in contagious environment...

reducing the occupancy by 50%.

Those new rules will go into effect 5:00 on Friday.

I now like many people around the world

cover my face every time I leave the house.

I have a homemade mask and it attracts attention

because most people I see have a typical white

or blue standard mask.

We all awkwardly look at each other.

An affirmation of the heaviness of the moment.

A mirror of ourselves existing in this reality,

all scared of dying, of killing,

spreading something invisible to a stranger or loved one.

I can now walk into a business or even a bank with a mask.

[ Old-timey piano music playing ]

♪♪

Will we be turned into superheroes or villains?

Sometimes all you need is the right costume

to get into the part.

♪♪

I don't feel like either, though.

I'm just surviving like everyone else around me.

[ Footsteps approaching ]

I step aside and let a woman pass.

She carries a large pack of paper towels.

We just nod.

No words.

I see you and you see me.

I see you and you see me.

I see you and you see me.

We are equal.

And you have a lot of Bounty, ma'am.

A mask can hide one's identity

as much as it can scream out one's cause.

From Batman to the Black Bloc.

Masks are meant to conceal one's identity for protection

while visually presenting a type of embodied threat.

The Zapatistas also famously used it

as a way of getting attention, of empowerment and solidarity.

Their cause was an organized struggle of resistance

against government oppression and was successful

because they created a world within a world,

a type of mini-utopia alternative

or "good" government.

Our masses are masked up for practical reasons

and yet I feel a solidarity in our viral resistance.

Our masks may muffle our voices yet they themselves

are screaming with sadness for the sick and dying among us

and rage against our own failing government.

-How... -...long...

-...will... -...this... -...last?

Everyone asks, and...

-When... -...will...

-...we... -...get...

-...back... -...to... -...normal?

-Normal. -Normal.

-Normal. -Normal.

-Normal. -Normal.

-Normal. -Normal.

Normal.

Normal?

There is no return to normal I'm afraid.

As I walk, masked among masked faces,

I look at all of us living out this mini dystopia

within the larger dystopia playing out across the world.

Our stores are boarded up.

We're all mostly holed up in our homes;

isolated, distanced, scared and waiting.

These small moments of human contact feel necessary

to truly embody this moment.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪ Uh

♪ La

♪ Uh

♪ La

♪ Uh

My kid's 13.

And a boy.

Not the combination you're hoping for

when you hear the word "quarantine."

13-year-old boys when they're inside do n--

Oh, you know what they do.

And it's all day long.

[ Singsong voice ] And I'm the one that's gotta do the laundry.

[ Normal voice ] Why did God smite me like this?

I mean, you go outside and there are people with no masks.

No masks.

Masks under chins.

And it is all I can do to keep from saying what in the [bleep]

Why are you trying to kill my [bleep] kid?!

Who died and made you the exception,

the piece of [bleep] that the world revolves around you?

You are different from everybody else.

Do you think you're the exception, the exception,

the exception to everything going on in our whole society?!

You are...

You are the plague!

But I don't say that.

Instead I take my son to the cemetery

to see the already dead people.

I am comforted and feel safer around the already dead people.

The undead ones, the ones, the ones with no masks,

they're trying to kill us.

So instead I take him to the cemetery,

he gets out his skateboard, skates around.

If we can make it through the day without him

knocking over a gravestone,

I consider myself a decent mother.

[ Laughs ] I tried to scooter once.

I bought a scooter. Not a good idea.

I looked -- I looked like I was photoshopped onto the thing.

I looked so silly.

Oh, kids were like, "Look at that lady

on her stupid scooter, stupid, stupid lady."

Ah, kids.

My son hates me.

Which is how he shows me he loves me.

But we get outside, we don't kill each other

because we are surrounded by already dead people.

This is the cemetery.

The cemetery was perfect until they closed it down one day

after this photograph was taken.

The cemetery was [bleep] perfect!

[ Sighs ]

Jason.

Jason!

Put on your mask, God [bleep]!

[ Static, radio tuning ]

You think you see me, but you don't see me.

I'm in different worlds.

In the world without Rona, I get ready to go to school,

lookin' sharp

where I go and create experiences with my friends,

the one that I could tell my future grandchildren

about how great my senior year was --

the prom, graduation, senior barbecue.

Dating.

I create stories to tell my future adorable grandkids

about who won Prom King and Queen,

and who the smarty was who was valedictorian.

In the world with Rona, prom, graduation,

senior barbecue, dating are cancelled.

There's never gonna be a true high school ending.

Going to a 6-12 school,

my friends have been there since, like, before puberty.

This is so dumb that senior year has to end like this.

But I got a plan.

Even with all the craziness going on outside,

the virus hasn't hit the virtual world.

I play "World of Warcraft," a fantasy online game

that allows people to play as different mythical races

and classes to raid dungeons and defeat monsters.

So even though I can't meet up with my friends at school,

we meet up in the game.

It's become a hideout for us,

where I get to hang out with Scotty and Amar and Zee.

Only they don't look like Scotty and Amar and Zee.

They look like Thor.

Super jacked.

And we go there and we didn't even try to defeat monsters.

Sometimes we just sit there.

Zee got us to fish this one time which was stupid but also nice.

Sometimes it's nice to not have to try

to defeat monsters for a minute.

To the families, teachers and everyone else

trying to help the class of 2020 feel better, we hear you.

We appreciate what you're trying to do,

but we're grieving premature memories

that became final goodbyes.

But nothing's gonna beat us.

I go into my cyber world and there my friends are.

Our time in the game is the one thing that hasn't changed.

The only place that doesn't have a stupid missing goodbye.

So I guess I can tell my super successful, smart, charming

and good-looking grandkids that nothing was gonna beat us.

We figured it out.

We figured out how to beat the game.

[ Video-game music playing ]

3, 2, 1.

♪ Uh

♪ La

♪ Uh

♪ La

So, yes, I had COVID and so did my mom and my grandma

and I am so thankful that we got to beat it at home

because a lot of people don't have that option.

But before, during and after contracting COVID,

I am still a single fucking female living in Queens.

Hello!

So let me tell you something.

Dating at the best of times is challenging.

Dating during a quarantine is a whole other level

of screw-you-very-much.

So I decided I was gonna sign up for Hinge

and Bumble, even Tinder.

Even Tinder because so many people are signing up

more than ever before, because hi, lonely!

I matched with this one guy that I met 10 years ago

on Bell Boulevard.

And we were talking

and we're thinking about maybe even meeting up.

He was at home, in quarantine, barely any distractions.

I'm at home looking for love in all the Internet places.

And we talk, we think, yeah, maybe we should meet.

We'll take all the proper precautions,

cover it up, cover everything.

Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.

He stops responding.

Ladies, being ghosted is terrible.

Being ghosted in a quarantine -- during a quarantine...

It made my ego into, like, an ego-salad sandwich.

So then three weeks goes by. Okay.

Three weeks goes by and he starts texting me again

like nothing ever happened.

Like nothing is going on!

Meanwhile I'm back online.

I'm talking to three or four guys.

Because, um, hello, this!

And there's one in particular who holds a lot of promise.

He works at a hospital in Queens.

Looks kind of good.

So I confront Bell Boulevard

about his three-week hiatus, right?

I'm like, "What gives, dude?"

And he says, "Pandemic."

That's his excuse.

Pandemic!

No!

Do you know to this day he is still all up in my Gram,

commenting on my photos,

leaving little suggestive emojis all over things.

Mnh-mnh.

Mnh-mnh!

♪♪

I am a U.S.-born,

first-generation Jewish Iranian American.

During this time of the pandemic,

I have not been able to see my parents,

who live close by in Rockland County.

And I have felt a layered sense of grief around this

as I love them very much

and as they're the holders of our cultural connection

to Iran and our traditions.

The Passover holiday is a significant holiday for us.

When the shelter-in-place order was given in March, I knew

it was not likely that my family would gather for Passover.

In my husband's last trip

to the grocery store around that time,

I asked him to purchase cilantro, parsley and dill,

and I was relieved when he arrived home

with all three herbs.

And I committed to using them to prepare sabzi.

"Sabzi" translates in Farsi to "greens"

and it is the foundation of so many of our traditional dishes,

including my mother's rice called baghali polo.

I remember as a small girl watching my mother prepare sabzi

on Friday mornings.

She would rinse all of the herbs and we would pinch them

and eat them raw as a treat

before she went on to cook them for our rice.

My mother had actually tried to teach me to prepare Iranian food

since I was a young girl, but I resisted.

I argued that if my brothers did not need to learn,

then neither did I.

And for some time this small act of resistance

made me feel proud.

But as an adult and now as a mother,

I have such deep regret and even shame for not knowing

how to prepare food from my culture.

So on March 18, 2020,

I resolved to prepare sabzi.

I enlisted the help of my young son

who was a week away from turning 4 years old.

He stood next to me at the sink

and watched me rinse all of the herbs.

I taught him the names of each green

in English and in Farsi.

Cilantro --gishniz.

Parsley --jafary.

Dill --shevid.

My son smelled and tasted the herbs with me

and helped separate the leaves and the stems.

I FaceTimed with my mom along each step,

watched her face and listened to her voice guide me.

"Rinse the herbs.

Chop the herbs.

Only the green part of the green onion.

Your chop must not just be good.

It must be fine."

"Now heat the frying pan.

Add the oil.

Add the herbs.

Add the fenugreek." Shanbalileh in Farsi.

"But not too much or it becomes bitter.

No one wants their sabzi bitter. Mm.

Now stir.

Keep moving it around or the herbs will burn."

The process took all day

and holding the herbs in my hands

gave me such...joy

and sense of connection.

I imagined my small self watching my mother

prepare sabzi in my childhood home

and I imagined my mother as a young girl

watching her mother do the same in Abadan, Iran.

By the end of the day, I had prepared the sabzi

and tasting it...

brought tears to my eyes.

It tasted like home.

♪♪

So I froze what I had prepared

and kept it for the Passover holiday.

On April 8th, I took the next step

and created a version -- my version --

of my mother's rice.

[ Iranian music playing ]

♪♪

[ Techno music playing ]

♪♪

Nat: "I am a camera with a shutter open, quite passive,

recording, not thinking.

Someday all this will have to be developed,

carefully printed, fixed."

Christopher Isherwood wrote that 90 years ago

in Berlin between two world wars.

An outsider from England, he witnessed rising fascism

in a social and political situation

that had no certain outcome.

I often think of my own camera as a historical record

for people whose lives will not overlap with my own.

And I look to Isherwood to think about my role in this time.

Am I a camera with my shutter open,

passively recording, not thinking?

I mean, was he really?

As an archivist, I feel my choices of who we record,

when, what we record, make us active participants

in shaping popular understanding,

both now and especially in the future.

But I also feel a certain remove.

This footage of a Black Lives Matter march

was shot from my fire escape, literally above the fray,

outside of it like Isherwood was observing life in Berlin

from his boardinghouse window.

All: Black Lives Matter!

[ Horns honking ]

Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

And what is the role of someone

who documents but does not march?

Is that valuable?

Is that valid?

And by choosing to make this my contribution to this moment,

am I shaping future perspectives too much?

Because everything we say and do

has real consequences in this moment.

Because we too are a country on the precipice

of transformative change and uncertain outcomes.

So I will continue to do my best to arise to this moment,

thinking of our shared future

and contributing my own imperfect record

of being alive in this time and place.

[ Camera beeps, shutter clicks ]

[ Camera beeps, shutter clicks ]

[ Camera beeps, shutter clicks ]

[ Camera beeps, shutter clicks ]

[ Camera beeps, shutter clicks ]

[ Camera beeps, shutter clicks ]

♪♪

Okay. so I move on to the guy with promise

who works in the Queens hospital during the height of quarantine.

And even though he has got a chock-a-block full schedule,

we managed to talk, like, all day every day

for almost, like, two months.

So I decide I'm gonna go give him

a care package of his favorite candy,

which is Twizzlers and snow cones and some energy drinks.

I get to the hospital, right?

And he says, "This is the kindest thing

anyone has ever done for me.

You are a keeper."

That was the last time I ever saw him!

He disappears for two days.

I'm calling him three, four times a day

because I want to know if he's, like, died from COVID.

Hello!

Finally he gets back to me and he's like, "Look,

I had this emotional talk with my ex

and I need to call somebody else who's a trusted source

to get some advice on this."

That was three months ago.

A dick.

What a dick!

So after him, I get ghosted by two

or three more guys in a row and finally I am like, "No!"

I need to get out of the city because I'm gonna go crazy.

My head is gonna explode, right?

So my girlfriend invites me up to Albany

because she's been seeing this guy that she met on Tinder

and she wants to fix me up with one of his single friends

and I'm like, "Okay, why not?"

Because clearly my intuition is not working very well for me,

so maybe she's got a better idea.

Plus she sent me a photo.

Pretty decent, not bad, decent.

We'll see.

♪♪

♪♪

What is considered ordinary to a child of Flushing, Queens,

is Chung Fat, Great Wall, Patel Brothers,

Sky Foods, J-Mart, and countless other temples

to the bounties of lands we had to leave behind,

so we could plant roots in this here county of Queens --

New York City's homage to the divine feminine

and all her glory.

Open to bustling public worship seven days a week.

What is considered ordinary to not just a child of Flushing

but a child of Elmhurst, Corona, Astoria, LIC, Woodside,

Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Jamaica, Hollis,

Far Rockaway, Cambria and Jackson Heights?

Any child raised within the four corners of Queens

is the comfort of 160 languages

wrapped into one continuous melody that beats in tune

with the pulse of the city streets

24 hours a day, just like my favorite bodega.

What is considered ordinary to any child of Queens --

me, you, us -- is Vernon, 30th, Steinway,

Roosevelt, Junction, Queens Boulevard, Maine,

Hillside, Sutphin, The Ave, Liberty,

Lefferts, Linden, Farmers, Merrick, Myrtle,

packed on that first gorgeous spring day.

[ Chuckles ]

Few things come as close to universal glory than that.

So what exactly isn't ordinary to a child of Queens?

Let me tell you.

It's not ordinary to walk down

the third busiest intersection in all of New York,

also known as Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue,

at high noon and see a line to enter Duane Reade.

It's one of the only open businesses for blocks.

Restaurants, which offer the culinary jewels of the East

at the end of diner's forks, now hang in the balance,

along with the livelihoods of owners,

staff and patrons alike.

The produce garden of the world's diaspora is boarded

and gated up as far as the eye can see.

We once fed an entire city

and now we are the ones who are slowly starving.

It's not ordinary to see Elmhurst,

the hospital that birthed you, every day on the TV

and see it become where more people now gasp

their final breath...

[ Gasps ]

...than when the towers fell.

Why did those in power allow neighborhoods

so full of people, full of Latinxs,

full of Asians, full of Africans,

full of West Indians, full of African-Americans,

full of indigeneity from across the globe,

so full of life not so long ago,

why were they pushed

to become withering shells of themselves?

Oiga.

Oiga.

This is not ordinary.

The only thing that comes close these days

to feeling ordinary to a child of Queens

is the care

born of bonds built across languages,

across cultures, across races, across genders.

The care that comes with the knowledge

that whatever we left behind,

where we left it, doesn't matter now.

What matters is that we here, in this space,

in this time of the Rona,

and if we're gonna survive this present life less ordinary,

mutual aid has to be the name of our game.

Each one reach one.

We may never go back to what was once known as ordinary,

but as long as grace gives us another day to walk this earth

and start again, we the children of Queens...

...can create our new ordinary out of love.

That's the only way.

♪♪

♪♪

March 11, 2020, was the last day

of what I knew as "normal."

You know, prior to COVID 19,

I was starting to get into a professional groove.

I had this outpouring of inspired choreography

that I was excited about.

You know the dance is good when it, you know, dances!

♪♪

When it dances! [ Laughing ]

But I had just ended a 6-month relationship

with my boyfriend, Freddie,

and the breakup sent my head spinning and in a one-two punch,

Miss COVID showed up and before the shit hit the fan,

my roommate snatched me away and suddenly I'm in Cape Cod.

What we thought was gonna be a 5-day escape

turned into a 2-month getaway.

There wasn't much to do on Cape Cod

because we in the middle of both winter and a worldwide pandemic.

The only thing there was to do was think,

and I immediately started to question

the meaning of everything that I was doing.

"Who was I really?

What activities brought me the most joy?

Do I want to keep choreographing for nonprofits

where I do important work?

Or do I want to go commercial, finally make some money

so I can afford my own house on Cape Cod?

Do I want to keep living in NYC?

What can I learn from my relationship with Freddie

and how can that help me grow?"

COVID had stolen any chance

at a real resolution with Freddie

or figuring out if I'd ever date again.

Then walking around Cape Cod,

it became clear that me and Kit-Yan,

a close friend who came with us,

were some of the only non-white folks around.

[ Laughing ]

I started re-reflecting on the assimilating

that I did growing up and how that is affecting my whole life.

And there I was in this affluent, lily-white beach town,

with other creatives,

slowly losing the creative motivation

that I built up all these years.

And no dance would come out.

No dance.

♪♪

In the midst of these realizations,

the Black Lives Matter Movement started to take off at NYC

and even though I knew that it was important for my health

to stay out of the city, I knew I had to come back

and be a part of this civil rights movement.

So at the end of April, I came back to New York City,

but socially it wasn't the same city that I left.

It was like, all of a sudden,

everything that I'd known and worked for

didn't make sense in this this new world, you know.

My past work made me angry,

because what did it have to do with a global pandemic

or George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery?

It's been five months, and I don't have any solid answers

to any of my questions.

And I feel a bit lost.

And I'm usually the one with the plan

or at least who has it all together from the outside.

But I don't.

And I'm okay with that.

The world doesn't have it together right now.

And in a weird way, it kind of makes me look forward to --

to the plans,

passions and the ideas that I will bring to fruition,

once my spark starts to flame again.

♪♪

[ Siren wailing ]

When the lockdown began, I was a recovering agoraphobe.

I was looking forward to going outside.

I was doing volunteer work in Queens.

I was starting to explore the city.

But now my reality is once again the size,

more or less, of my apartment.

I live alone.

I live with mental illness.

I live with solitude and ghosts.

Am I disassociating?

Here and there are missing chunks of time

all over the place.

I think I am.

To be honest, this seems somewhat unreal.

At night I swim in the glittering,

half-polluted rivers of Twitter.

There's some strange wildlife there.

In the morning, I wake from violent dreams.

Occasionally I venture outside and see feral cats.

They stare at me from a distance.

[ Wailing continues ]

The sirens are loud.

Because my apartment faces a courtyard and not the street,

I can't see them, but I can hear them.

I mean, all anyone hears in New York City

these days are sirens...

and fireworks.

Of course, before COVID, we also heard sirens...

and fireworks.

Now it's at all hours and it's the only sound.

No honking, yelling, car radios,

children playing or trucks parking.

Just sirens.

[ Wailing continues ]

When you first get acquainted with a city,

you get acclimated to the noise.

At first it's so loud, it keeps you up, but then over time,

it becomes soft background noise, like a ceiling fan.

The noise becomes a comfort, knowing so much is around you

and so many are experiencing the same.

You smile when someone leans out the window

and yells at the person below.

"Hey! Shut the fuck up!"

You live your life interacting with millions of people.

The neighbors in the stairwell, the delivery folks,

that one man who stands too close on the subway,

children spilling out onto the street at 3:00 p.m.,

the girl who makes your morning cup of coffee,

that one three-legged dog on your block and his owners,

the elderly woman you always see at the laundromat,

your bodega guy, the homeless man at the corner,

tourists trying to decipher a subway map,

moms carrying impossibly large strollers up the stairs,

children standing on subway benches looking out the window,

your favorite bartender,

the taco truck guy, strangers in the park,

strangers on the way to work, strangers in the club,

strangers on the subway platform.

Millions of people and hundreds of light acquaintances.

And you know deep down that this bustling metropolis

is still there, just hidden away.

But the only evidence is some chalk on the sidewalk,

a smile from a stranger dancing 6 feet out of your way,

a rainbow in a window...

and the sirens.

And you think to yourself --

you think with tremendous guilt --

"This is nice.

What if I actually like living like this?

Not having to interact with anyone,

not having to smile, not having to fake being human.

What if this is what I've actually dreamed of?"

Is today the day before tomorrow?

Or is it the day after yesterday?

Whichever day it is, I am here.

I have shown up.

If you are taking attendance,

and if anyone is taking attendance, I am present.

I am present. I am here.

I am present. I have shown up.

I am present...

and it is okay and enough just to be present right now!

Even if I'm only talking to myself.

[ Wailing continues ]

Okay.

Fast forward to Albany, alright?

I'm at my friend's house, we're waiting for the guys

to come over for a barbecue, and suddenly my date shows up

and he looks nothing like he did in the picture she showed me.

Except in a good way.

It was kind of like they took his picture

and they put it in that scene from "Captain America."

Remember when he goes from skinny to steroids

and he was like, "Whoa!"

It's like, he was built.

So we start talking, right?

We're having the normal kind of

getting to know you conversation.

Blah blah blah. How are you?

And I say something innocent like, "I like baked ziti."

And he says four words that are a deal-breaker.

"I. Don't. Do. Carbs."

Um, I'm sorry.

I know that that is a very trendy diet right now,

but I cannot get behind that.

Plus he's an ex-Marine, so all he cares about

is going to the gym all the time.

Meanwhile I have been in quarantine for three months

doing nothing but eating Oreos and wearing a hoodie

and sweatpants all day long.

So, it's basically like the more we talk,

the less we have in common.

[ Sighs ]

I don't know, maybe it was because I was nervous,

or I didn't want to add another check to my lost column,

or maybe because I didn't eat anything all day,

but I have one too many beers,

maybe two, maybe three, but the night's going on

and he actually starts warming up to me.

It's cold outside and I gratefully accept

his button-down shirt.

Very nice.

My friend lights a fire.

Everything's going good,

except that I'm seeing two of everybody

because I'm a little, you know...

Well, I don't know what happened next.

But what I am told is that I was being flirtatious

and I, like, pushed him like a flirty little push.

Except you got to remember, this guy is like

an impenetrable force, an ex-Marine.

So my little push pushes me backwards into the flames.

There's flames all around me.

My ass is on fire. I'm in shock.

Too many beers, so I can't get out.

My Marine, he jumps in and saves me.

And he pulls me out and there I am on the ground.

I've got first- and second-degree burns

on my forearm.

I got some on my left hand and on my right butt cheek.

And then -- then -- my friend decides to call

my mother on the FaceTime.

So now my mother is chiming in, telling me

how to deal with the burns, which is enough already,

but then, she decides to change her rant

and starts talking about how I haven't had sex in so long.

Uh, thanks a lot, Mom.

Because there's nothing more attractive to a guy

than a girl with her ass on fire and her mother

talking about her 7-year sexless itch.

Come on!

[ Sighs ]

So, yes.

The Marine ghosted me.

But I don't care.

I don't care, because he did not leave me on the fire to burn.

It started with a tension headache.

I remember I woke up one morning,

thinking I must have slept in a funny way

because my head felt heavy.

I knew that a headache was coming,

so I had high hopes that it would be gone by the afternoon.

I continued my day.

I think I even went into the city

to pick up a few things, which I regret now.

I got back to my apartment and my head was just --

it had its own drummer going.

And I remember feeling warm

and not the good, fuzzy kind of warm,

but the hellish-fever kind.

And that's when I had a hunch.

I mean, I didn't want to believe it,

much less utter a word of what I was thinking,

so I just took cold medicine and I continued my day.

I really don't remember much after that.

I-I guess it was, uh,

yeah, when I went to the emergency room on day six.

And I know it's a large gap going from day one to day six,

but I-I truly don't remember much.

I remember having a headache every single day,

and I remember feeling very weak,

and, you know, the fevers from hell.

And I just, I could barely move.

And I kept asking, I said, "Please, can you just,

can someone give me some ice?

My head feels like it's going to explode."

And, uh, I guess it was on day six in particular

that I remember having

this...

out-of-body experience,

where I...I saw myself, my body,

walking into the kitchen and I...

I picked up a -- a knife, like, a 6-inch blade,

a kitchen knife, whatever.

And I remember...

I made a cut in my head.

And all I could think was that

I just needed to do something to get rid of the pain.

And I imagined... hallucinated

that I -- that I cut the entire top of my head.

Note I'm not suicidal, but this is what

a 105-Fahrenheit fever can do to someone.

So, that's when I knew that I had to find a hospital

and break some rules.

I mean, I'm under 50.

So I kept telling myself like, "Be brave.

You've got to get through this at home

with no professional help."

But I started hallucinating.

Crazy things.

And my head, I mean, it was excruciating.

So, went to the hospital,

and I actually had a 106-Fahrenheit fever,

which, you know, made my heart start to race

and it was beating so fast

that they immediately took me to the back,

you know, for my heart, for an EKG.

And the nurse just told me, "You need to calm down.

You have to slow down your heart rate."

I just said, "What do you mean, nurse?

I can't calm down. I feel like I'm going to die!"

And they took me to a room where I had no contact with anybody.

And I just asked the nurse, I begged her,

I said, "Please, can you give me something for the pain?"

So she came back with one of those,

you know, it was a long Q-tip, and they stuck it up my nose

and it made me shiver,

and, um...

she gave me Tylenol.

30 minutes later, the doctor came in,

and I pleaded with him to give me something

because my head was just --

I mean, it had a life of its own.

And then 30 minutes after that, I mean, the world was spinning.

And I just felt --

I just felt in so much pain.

And so I made it through the night with the same fever

and the same headache.

And in the morning, they told me that I had pneumonia.

And that -- and that

I had tested positive for coronavirus.

Which then they immediately made me leave the hospital.

I mean, like, as soon as possible,

so that I couldn't infect anybody

and my at-home care instructions

were to take the antibiotics for my lungs

and Tylenol for the headache.

I mean, I had a new 104-Fahrenheit fever,

same headache.

And, uh...

...I remember... being, uh, at home

with a new 104-Fahrenheit fever, same headache,

and...I just remember thinking

that...

perhaps I was going to be

a part of the small percentage

that coronavirus took as a casualty.

[ Sniffles ]

So I texted my best friend,

and I told her that I loved her.

And I told my boyfriend

how -- how amazing that he'd been.

And I closed my eyes...

...ready not to wake up in the morning.

You know, um, you know,

I've had a lot of time to reflect,

and...[ sighs ]

I think what I'm most ashamed of...

...is how much I --

how much I've taken my health for granted.

Cuomo: Today is day 156.

It was a mistake to see what we had to do here in New York.

The testing, the hospital system,

the contact tracing, the close down,

the phase reopening.

And pay no attention to it.

You had six months.

Here in New York, we had two weeks.

We were ambushed.

We were in the middle of a moment.

A moment of magic.

Healing, laughter and community.

A moment of joy, Blackness,

richness, heritage.

A rare moment when Black bodies

weren't ornaments on white stories,

but statues of our own narrative.

Hmm.

Our narrative.

Our uniqueness,

our hips,

our tears, our secrets,

our fears, our love,

our pain, our truth, no shame.

Baby!

It was fire!

Yeah, maybe too good to be true.

But something was around the corner,

and none of us knew.

Well, some of us knew, but withheld it from the rest.

See, this president, you know what?

Let me save my Black breath.

Now, here we are, frozen in time.

Most folks stuck at home, not earning a dime.

I mean, is this real?

I ask myself every day and I pray and pray

that it all just goes away, but five months later,

and the bitch is still here,

and freedom as we knew it remains unclear.

Why?

Why?

I asked God, "What are we to learn?"

The privileged are still safe while the poor folks burn.

Chocolate men and women still hunted in the streets

while "Black Lives Matter" rings out on repeat.

Even in a pandemic,

Black bodies can't rest

with your knees on our necks

and your hate on our chests.

But "Still I rise," Dr. Angelou once said.

So...I'll wear this Blackness

like the crown on my head.

I will take up space.

I will use my voice.

You will hear my echo.

No, you have no choice.

So...listen.

It's not like you ain't got the time.

What is your excuse now?

Hmm?

None come to mind?

Well, maybe this all wasn't a mistake.

But perhaps we were sleeping.

Now the world's awake.

When we return...

will we have learned?

When we return...

will you have learned?

Because we...

we were in the middle of a moment,

a moment of magic.

Whether you saw it or not, I'll always have it.

♪♪

♪♪

So I've decided to give up dating.

[ Sighs ]

But I will always remember this time as the time

that I got sick and the time I got ghosted so much,

I basically turned into Casper,

and the time where I got my dating battle scar

on my right butt cheek,

which, depending on who you talk to,

either looks like the United States

or a cat or a hand pointing.

Pointing at...

...nowhere good.

That's it.

♪♪

Sto Len: These small moments of human contact

feel necessary to truly embody this moment.

Our eyes tell me we all care and that we're here.

And they reveal a sense of relief...

...that we're not in this alone.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪ Sometimes I find myself reeling ♪

♪ Listing and rolling in a plastic sea ♪

♪ Their signs and signals

♪ Bidding for attention for me ♪

♪ So turn on your sleigh and I will turn on mine ♪

♪ And we'll hum and go like

♪ Something, somewhere, sometime ♪

♪ Yeah!

♪ And if I've wounded you, I'm sorry ♪

♪ I had good intentions

♪ And if I've wounded you, I'm sorry ♪

♪ Because it happens all the time ♪

♪♪

♪ Yeah!

♪♪

♪ You remind me of a reason

♪ had by someone so many years ago ♪

♪ Send words through wires

♪ build highways from coast to coast ♪

♪ But those words fell short

♪ And your roads have worn with time ♪

♪ On our way to something, somewhere, sometime ♪

♪ Oooh

♪ And if I've wounded you, I'm sorry ♪

♪ I had good intentions

♪ Oh, oh

♪ And if I wounded you, I'm sorry ♪

♪♪

♪ Yeah!

♪ It happens all the time

♪♪

♪ Sometimes I feel like an arrow ♪

♪ Fired at something, somewhere, long ago ♪

[ Cheers and applause ]

[ Cheers and applause continues ]

[ Horns honking ]

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