The curfew has been moved to eight o’clock because some people looted Macy’s last night. Today I learned that curfew comes from an old French term to “cover fire.” Medieval towns would ring a bell each night as an order for citizens to extinguish their hearths and prepare for sleep.

Helicopters hover in the sky all day, waiting for something to happen. The streets smell like fresh plywood. Shops on the corner are boarding up their windows. I say hello to an old man with a power drill and a bucket of screws. Everything’s coming fast and ugly this year.

But these anxieties feel so disconnected from the thrum of walking with a peaceful crowd down Lexington Avenue, citizens of all kinds demanding justice and dignity for those who’ve been denied for too long. For a moment, anything seems possible. A line from Don DeLillo’s Mao II comes to mind: “To become a crowd is to keep out death.”

Each night in 2020, I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these days into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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