15 Things That Might Just Happen When the L Train Shuts Down

The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

By Frida Oskarsdottir

In New York, the subway falls under the umbrella of things people are as quick to defend to outsiders as they are to deride to their fellow citymen, like cash-only everything, or muggings. Brief commutes are heralded; half empty rush hour trains are discussed in the hushed tone usually reserved for urban legends. We console each other about our missed appointments, and the cramped compartments wherein people refuse to heed the conductor’s pleas to please, stand clear of the closing doors. 

New York City’s transit system is a clusterfuck the most complex in the world, with its twenty four subway lines spanning 659 miles of track, and that’s without the 5700 buses. So many moving parts and an average of 5.7 million riders each day make it a struggle for the city to find the stressors that most need addressing to avoid disaster and to keep commuters happy, or whatever the word is for when you don’t see a penis on the train.

One teeny-tiny wrench in the already strained system is the apocalyptic 15-month shutdown of the L train slated to begin April 2019. The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan and the lifeblood of 400,000 daily riders. So far, the MTA’s plan for mitigating the impact of the shutdown has been met with audible groans skepticism and continued uncertainty for how its policies will play out. The countdown clock has officially begun, so here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

1. New Yorkers will recognize they’re all in this together, and face the challenges of the shutdown with respect and dignity for their fellow commuters.

2. Just kidding – you will get hit by a train after a wave of rerouted passengers becomes a rat king-esque cluster of intertwined arms and legs, moving as one, squirming until it shoves you off the platform.

3. A new app will help you calculate how many items on your person you would have to barter in order to take a the newly surcharged Lyft home instead of waiting six hours for the train at 1 a.m.

4. Private vehicles may see serious restrictions from the city, following in the footsteps of other progressive metropoles. As a result, flowers will spring forward through the pavement, lush green will overcome the concrete jungle. Man and beast will once again live in harmony.

5. You will get hit by a car because someone’s grandma who has been taking the L train like a champion for the last 20 years had to renew her license to make it to her craft circle. But don’t worry, it will have more than 3 riders in thanks to the HOV3 requirement.

6. The soar in Lyft Line and Uber Pool prices will make way for new ride-sharing experiences – think PiggyBack and WheelBarrow. These will also double as dating apps.

7. You’ll save money by cancelling your gym membership – who needs it with all the extra steps it takes to walk over the Williamsburg Bridge? Bonus: the angrier you are, the faster you’ll go!

8. Despite the fact that bus ridership in New York City has decreased by over 100 million rides over the past eight years and is the slowest out of all big cities in the nation, everyone will seamlessly switch to buses and for sure make it to work on time during rush hour.

9. You will get hit by a bus.

10. Anyone remember this article about a woman in San Francisco who wakes up at 2:15 am to get to work by 7:00 am? Don’t worry if not, you’ll have time to read it again while you’re tucking yourself in at 5:00 pm.

11. The new additional cars on the G train, until now the stumpiest of all lines, will serve as makeshift studio apartments for those who have had to sell their billion dollar Williamsburg properties at a loss.

12. On April 1st, 2019, 1-2% of The Rerouted will take the form of cyclists, removing the tags from their spandex and strapping on their shiny new helmets, triumphant in newfound liberty and pursuit of a fun and exhilarating personal commute since the city’s plan proposes a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th Street, the first in Manhattan.

13. You will get hit by a bike, because all of a sudden there are thousands of uneasy bikers on Manhattan’s only crosstown two-way protected bike lane.

14. #EastRivering will trend when a desperate workforce population braves a swim in the murky green waters rather than sit on the stopped J train for another second.

15. Everything will be OK because New York is the greatest fuckin’ city on Earth and I’m walkin’ here alright???

Urban Beaching

Our photographer hit the streets for some classic summer in the New York City shots.

Photographs by Sara Afzal
Introduction by the Editors

As we make our way into the fall, we’re looking back at what summer—that fickle minx who lures you in with thoughts of the beach and pushes you away with walls of hot garbage smell— means to us. To honor the few months out of the year that turn us back into kids on vacation, encouraging us to take to the streets and enjoy life outside of our apartments or offices. The summer heat is a great equalizer, no one is immune to the suffocating subway platform or regaining your core temperature in an air-conditioned bathroom at work—as the city heats up, people come outside. And so, our photographer Sara Afzal hit the streets for some classic summer in the city shots.

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11 Moms in NYC Share Their Advice on Motherhood

We hit the streets of New York City and asked eleven women to share their best advice about being a mom.

Photographs by Sara Afzal, Introduction by Gabrielle Sierra

As six women who have yet to embark on the incredible journey that is motherhood, we wanted to capture some of the extraordinary moms we see around the city every day. Whether they are taking their kids to the park, consoling them after a tumble or dragging them along to get groceries at Trader Joe’s, these mothers impress and amaze us with their ability to guide, love, teach and protect another human being.

We hit the streets and asked eleven women to offer the best advice they could about being a mom.

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Marsha McGogney 44 | Occupational Therapist | West Village, Manhattan, NY| Josephine, 2 

“You need a ‘village’ because ‘it takes a village.’ Giving our daughter as much time as possible around other kids every day, I think, is working for her. My husband’s native culture of staying connected to community is the driving force behind keeping her connected to other kids. I think…that accessing her village of kids makes her happy.”

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Rahna Jalashgar | 33 | Administrative assistant | Tribeca, Manhattan, NY | Leo, 2.5 months

“I kind of had a difficult pregnancy and had a lot of anxiety. My mom told me this is your first test as a mother. Every time you are upset and anxious it affects the baby and your first test is how to take care of that and smooth it over. Being a parent isn’t just feeding a child, you have to be mentally healthy as well. You don’t know what kind of parent you’re going to be until the baby comes.”

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Gem Stone | 32 | Construction project manager | East Village, Manhattan, NY | Sofie, 7 weeks

“The advice I got from my mom was ‘don’t look at the baby’s diapers (as in don’t focus too much on the poop or number of pees), look at the baby’s face.’ If the baby seems happy, she’s healthy.”

“I would say to pregnant women, birthing is a very human experience, learn as much as you can about what your body will go through beforehand so you can be present during the labor and birth. Also keep your core tight- pushing a baby out is like doing the most intense sit ups EVER.”

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Alisha Bhagat (8.5 months pregnant) | 34 | Brooklyn, NY | Senior sustainability advisor and futurist | Shirin, 2 

“With kids everything is a phase that will eventually pass. This is a reminder to enjoy the good times as morning snuggles and unfiltered toddler joy won’t last forever. It also means that tantrums, sleepless nights, and potty training will also someday pass.”

“Sometimes women feel that they need to spend every second of their free time with their kids. There is no need to sacrifice your own hobbies, interests, and identity for your children – you will be miserable. The happiest mothers I know are those who are able to make time for their own personal lives outside of parenting. Children are such a blessing, but they should integrate into your life, not take it over.”

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Pakiza Rassoul | 36 | Community outreach liaison for a nonprofit | Nolita, Manhattan, NY | Frankie, 9 months

“Not every child is the same. I tell everyone to have patience. When you are pregnant you get a hell of a lot of advice more than you know what to do with.”

“We live in New York City so you got to use your surroundings. Nolita is our oyster. Take in what the city has to offer and don’t feel like because you’re a mom you have to stay home and be held captive. “

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Titi Michelich (6 months pregnant) | 40 | Head of operations for a creative agency | Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY | Rita, 3, Dante, 5 

“I’ve been a working mom the whole time. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been able to manage my job while having kids since I have more flexibility to work part time if I need to. An aunt of mine told me when you’re at home it’s good to put your work to rest and more important to focus on your children –not to try to do both things at the same time.”

“Even if we live in a city and urban environment, we can spend lots of time outside. Whether going to parks and playgrounds, or walking around the city. We also go to museums and theaters. There is so much to do with kids and you can still enjoy the cultural movement here.”

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Chrissy Shrider | 37 | Artist | Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY | Nora and Ruby, 2-year old twins (not pictured: Lucia, 5) 

“I’d say, pay attention to how you spend your time and really be present. I think it’s important to make time in between all the things that need to get done everyday and just really focus on being with your kids and bonding. It’s those little moments in the day to day routine that you may not think much of at the time but they turn out to be cherished memories that stick.”

“Enjoy your surroundings and stop to soak in the little things. This city is filled with amazing adventures for kids to explore. There’s always something to do but I find it really special when we move slowly and enjoy our journey of the day, whatever it may be. Sometimes just stopping to look at a worm on the sidewalk turns into a silly moment that we’ll never forget.”

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Kathy Fusco | 41 | Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY | Creative Director| Lila, 1.5

“The first few months are hard. People don’t always talk about that. You might have some shower cries and question whether you can do this. YOU CAN. The beginning is all about survival. It gets easier and way more fun!”

“In New York City, Buy your neighbors bottles of wine when sleep training!”

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Amanda Banks | 3Former preschool teacher Manhattan, NY | Jack 2.5, Alexander, 6 months

“My aunt told me the days are long and the years are short. You want to really enjoy every moment with your kids and get through the day by being present in the moment and not being too busy.”

“I am trying to be a ‘minimalist mom.’ It can be tough bc here in NYC we are constantly exposed to so much, stores full of baby gear and toys, ‘the best’ schools and classes for our children.’ It can feel like too much at times. I try to keep things simple, keeping a small amount of toys in our apartment and utilizing the city (with its museums and parks) as much as possible for learning opportunities and playtime.”

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Shadean Runyen 44 | Risk Management Director and CPA | Santa Barbara, CA (visiting NYC) | Sasha, 14 (not pictured: Gabe, 11, Noah, 9, Zachary, 8) 

“I think the best advice has been to remind your kids that they need to always love each other and support each other. Siblings need to take care of each other and always have each other’s back. It’s easy for sibling relationships to drift apart and disconnect. For my husband and I, one of the most important things we want for our kids is to know that they will always have each other.”

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Nina Costantino | 40 | Vintage Reseller | Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York | Nicholas, 9 months

“Don’t be afraid to be silly; laugh at yourself and clown around with your baby, just go all out and be willing to make a fool out of yourself. I think a lot of people might feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Maybe it’s done behind closed doors so we don’t always see it. Don’t take yourself or the situation too seriously. Take a deep breath and laugh. It’s not the end of the world.”

“The best advice I’ve ever received was from a friend my age and mother of a 3 and 4 year old her name is Loury. As a mother you come first even if the baby is crying hysterically take care of your needs first. You can’t take care of them unless you care for yourself. Before you step away, make sure your baby is in a safe and secure area.”

15 People on What Makes Them Feel Powerful

We asked these people to strike a pose and tell us what makes them feel powerful.

By Sara Afzal

We all know that power comes from within. But sometimes it is the armor we wear on the outside that gives us the boost we need to feel ready to face the world. Whatever the item or style, what you wear (or don’t wear) is a way to convey how you feel about yourself, to bring your inner power to the outside.

We asked 15 people in New York City to strike a pose and take a moment to tell us what makes them feel powerful.

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Katherine Castañeda, 31 | Project Architect | Brooklyn, New York

“I don’t derive power from what I put on in the morning. I think it comes from confidence – how you feel about yourself, your state of mind, your attitude. Clothes in a sense carry that with you. You make yourself powerful and then whatever you put on reflects that.”

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Olivia Perez, 25 | Portrait Photographer | Brooklyn, New York

“My attitude and confidence speak a lot more to power than what I am wearing. I find a lot of fashion actually brings me down. I’ve worn lipstick for years. I’m inspired by the minimal look –just some lipstick and eyeshadow.”

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Cleopatra Joseph, 32 | Senior Finance Business Analyst | New York, New York

“When I am happy with who I am, I always feel powerful.  Having the freedom to travel often and experience what the world has to offer makes me feel empowered. Being the only female among my peers at work makes me feel powerful as a woman. The way my outfit moves with the wind lets me embrace the power of mother nature.”

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Katie Hakala, 29 | Writer and Editor | Brooklyn, New York

“I feel most powerful when I’m fully embracing my individuality. Women are raised to appear as either non-entities or sexual entities when they go out in public. Women are told that a diminutive presence is the most likable, and that conformity is the safest mode for navigating life. I don’t buy into any of that. My power thrives when I’m fully articulating my funky, crass, wise, irreverent me-ness without apology or hesitance.”

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Ardavan Arfaei, 29 | Architectural Designer | Brooklyn, New York

“I feel powerful when I learn. It can be learning a scientific principle, feeling how another being feels, or something about myself. I feel powerful when I teach. It can be explaining a fact I learnt or making it possible for someone to feel a new feeling.”

“The elements I use in my outfit are both a means of making myself feel good and also a tool to connect with other people. I wear different scarves to different occasions, It’s an easy yet very expressive accessory. I like expressing myself free of gender norms.”

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Mary Bustamonte, 28 | Stylist | Brooklyn, New York

“I never feel more powerful than when I’m present to taking up space as a woman. When I’m having a good day I remember to put my shoulders back, I feel in line with who I actually am. So much of our lives as women is catering to others and power is really prioritizing what is best for your own well being and then factoring in compassion and what needs to get done. I feel most powerful when I’m around women who resonate on the same frequency.”

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William McGuinness, 28 | Social & Digital Media Strategist/ Masters Student at Columbia University | New York, New York

“I know people who dress to look powerful or fashionable; but in my world, I need people to open up and feel comfortable in a professional setting. Then, they can share their knowledge and think more creatively. This space tie works well with astrophysicists and astronomers on the faculty and with my NASA capstone team. It’s a friendly wink that leads into the conversation.”

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Nicolet Schenck, 25 | Freelance Graphic Designer | Crown Heights, Brooklyn

“I always feel powerful when I’m driving on an on-ramp to the highway and I manage to take the curve at the perfect speed. I break, then accelerate with precision and feel the wheels glide with ease underneath me. When someone else is in the car, I hope they notice the way I’m cradling them with the turn’s fluidity. This smooth, elegant, in control feeling paired with a slight edge of adrenaline and a steady leap in the pit of my stomach is my ideal sense of power in anything I do.”

“The jumpsuit is the fabric equivalent of that moment for me. It’s elegant, it’s smooth, it’s a little daring and gives me a bit of an adrenaline rush from the feeling of wearing something out of the norm. It’s elongating, classic, and attention seeking, yet offers a caring, feminine presence that makes me want to guide and cradle others. I am powerful with a touch of breezy femininity.”

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Alena Le Blanc, 27 | Fashion Designer | San Francisco, California

“The reason I became a fashion designer is I wanted women to feel confident and happy in the clothes they are wearing. If you look good, you feel good. I feel confident and happy in this jacket.”

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Jan Philipp Sendker, 57 | Writer, Novelist | Berlin, Germany

“Knowledge makes me feel powerful. It gives you the power to make decisions to move forward and act.”

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Cece Chan, 19 | Film and TV Student at NYU | New York, New York

“I feel powerful when I can relate to other people. One one hand, it’s great when someone’s telling me something deeply personal, but on the flip side, I let things affect me more than I’d like to. But I always remember that when someone tries to hurt me, it’s usually not about me – it’s more often coming from a place of hurt. And I don’t feel the need to hurt people. That makes me feel powerful.”

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Robert Krakower, 26 | TV Producer | Brooklyn, New York

“I think it’s fun to wear something a bit out of the ordinary. I feel powerful wearing something I wouldn’t normally wear and pushing myself out of my comfort zone – plus they are super comfortable to wear!”

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Nadia Carrillo, 19 | Student at Columbia University | New York, New York

“I think above all else I feel empowered when I pay attention to detail on any aspect of my life, whether it be my clothes or my schoolwork or even just hanging out with friends. Keeping the little things in mind helps me to feel complete and thus like the best version of myself I can be.”

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Marlon Daniels, 24 | Prep Cook | Boston, MA

“Being in the right state of mind makes me feel powerful. It’s so difficult to be in a good place mentally.”

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Shirin Mazdeyasna, 24 | Student in Fine Art | Brooklyn, New York

“I find power in new environments and connections.”

A Friendship Interrupted: Loss During the AIDS Epidemic

A story about loving and losing a best friend during the AIDS epidemic in New York City.

As told to Gabrielle Sierra by her mother, Samantha

 

I first met David Poole in 1975. I was 23 and he was 25 and we were both working at the New York Public Library. He sought me out as a friend and I don’t really know why; it felt like we lived in different worlds. He was an openly gay man living in a fifth-floor walkup in the East Village, with a bathtub in the kitchen. I was a Brooklyn hippie commuting to the city every day, balancing work with night classes in community college. But David and I became fast friends and he brought me into his world.

There was so much about David that was unique. He biked everywhere and was brazen too; if a taxi cut him off he’d spit on it. It was David who first brought me to a sushi restaurant and introduced me to clubs like Paradise Garage where we would dance until dawn. He was a great dancer and knew everyone. In fact, it was a friend of his who introduced me to the man I would eventually marry.

David was a true-blue friend and utterly unselfish in his relationship with me. I’d never had a friend like that before and never have again.

David had a tremendous love for exotic plants and he sacrificed a room in his two-room apartment just to grow orchids. He had a complicated lighting and misting system that would go off on a timer. Depending on which one went on, he would either hand you sunglasses or an umbrella. Geckos ran loose in the apartment to eat roaches.

David was a true-blue friend and utterly unselfish in his relationship with me. I’d never had a friend like that before and never have again.

He first had suspicions that he had AIDS in 1985. Many of his friends were being diagnosed and he was right in the thick of the community. There was a lot of promiscuity and drug use; David wasn’t monogamous so the possibility was real. There were so many lies and misinformation surrounding the disease so it was hard to know what to believe. People believed you could get it from spit on the ground, from someone handling your food or touching the poles on the subway. There was a lot of fear.

At first David wouldn’t go to the doctor. He developed oral thrush and even though it really freaked him out he stayed in denial. But as more and more people around him started dying he grew consumed with the idea that he had AIDS. He was eventually diagnosed in 1986.

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David and Samantha


The doctor didn’t flat out tell him he had AIDS; they wouldn’t say it then. They listed ailments related to the disease but never said the actual word AIDS. After that he started to go downhill fast. He grew weaker. The library asked him to resign from his job.

A few of David’s friends and I began a desperate hunt for AZT, a medication used to treat HIV/AIDS. We contacted the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and they directed us to a doctor who would prescribe the medication but it wasn’t available at any pharmacy. We would be told it was on order and to come back tomorrow only to be told the same thing the next day. I went to different pharmacies, all over the city, every day, for nearly a month. They knew he was dying, knew so many people were dying, and they still lead us on. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. He didn’t get the AZT until he was too sick.

“They knew he was dying, knew so many people were dying, and they still lead us on.”

We tried to take him to the hospital but they wouldn’t admit him. Multiple doctors literally turned their backs to us. We contacted the GMHC again and they told us the only way to get David into the hospital was to bring him to the emergency room and walk away, because legally they had to take him if he was abandoned and in need of care. Walking away, leaving him all alone and so fragile, was the hardest thing I have ever done.

Once he was admitted, it was the same story. No physician would state that he had AIDS, they would only discuss what was happening to him. Eventually I cornered his doctor in the stairwell and asked him to just tell me off the record if it was AIDS. He said yes and I broke down. I guess I had just been holding on to this scrap of hope that since they never said it, it wasn’t real.

While David was in the hospital I found out that I was pregnant. I was going to the city every day to visit him at the hospital and I had no intention of changing that pattern. People gave me shit about exposing the fetus to AIDS and said that my stress would affect the pregnancy. Their concern was fueled by their ignorance and fear. Most of his friends didn’t visit him for the same reasons.

Before David was admitted, my husband and I had purchased tickets to visit my in-laws in Puerto Rico. As the trip got closer, I became more and more hesitant about going. But eventually two close friends of ours agreed to stay with him in the hospital, so we left. I called frequently.

His struggle with AIDS didn’t end in death.

We were just a few days into our trip when I grew concerned about David’s mental and physical state. Each time we spoke on the phone, he seemed more and more confused, repeating his fears to me, forgetting things. The disease was spreading to his brain and he was deteriorating quickly. I decided we had to go home right away. We bought tickets and I called to let David know I was coming. Our friends answered and said he wasn’t talking anymore. I asked them to put the phone to his ear and I told him I was on my way home and that we’d be back so soon. By the time we landed at the airport David was gone. He was 36. I didn’t get to see him again, I didn’t get to say goodbye.

His struggle with AIDS didn’t end in death. We couldn’t bury him. We went to multiple funeral homes only to be turned away. We would argue or offer more money but they would still refuse. When we asked how they could deny us, they said that by law they could refuse us service. It was surreal and devastating.  

Thank goodness for the GMHC. They instructed us to go to a certain place to cremate him, but then no one would take his ashes. Cemetery owners were terrified to put him in the ground. My lovely best friend.

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David, the author, and her dog Max

David’s life of kindness, easy friendship and love of nature helped us find an answer. He had been close with the groundskeeper for the Quaker cemetery in Prospect Park, a nice guy who used to let him come in and garden. When he heard that we couldn’t find a place for David’s ashes, he came to the rescue. The groundskeeper and I drove out to New Jersey and picked a tree we thought David would love. Then we illegally dug a hole for the tree and his ashes in the hidden idyllic cemetery. The tree is still there. It is amazing looking – a huge tree, beautiful and blue. We had a small ceremony there and a couple of us spoke.

I miscarried the baby very shortly after David died. People blamed it on the stress and all that, but I never thought about it that way. It was just the way things happen.

I was the executor for David’s will and he had a ton of odd and interesting stuff. We donated his plants to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and divided the rest of his things among friends and various charitable organizations. One day my husband and I were packing up at David’s apartment and we began searching for the geckos to take home with us. We knew there were four but since they were all loose, we were struggling to find them. We finally found three but it just seemed like the fourth was gone. I was extremely upset and I kept apologizing saying, “I’m sorry David, I’m sorry we couldn’t find him.” I was despondent when my husband said my name and pointed as the last gecko found his way onto my shoulder.

I have tried my best to honor David the place he had in my life. In the 1990’s I made a section on The AIDS Memorial Quilt for David and traveled with The Names Project around the country. I protested when children were being kept out of public schools due to AIDS. Through my job I now work with LGBT organizations and am an organizing member of a Safe Zone for all faculty and students at my school. I am proud to say my own children are liberal-minded and sensitive and thoughtful; what I went through with David had a hand in the way I raised them.

My wonderful friend will never be able to enrich the lives of my children as I know he would have.

But the panic I saw in people’s eyes and their actions during that time struck me in a deeply profound way. To see those sworn to protect the public turn their backs on us. To know that if some people had their way they would have left David and the rest of the gay community on an island to weed itself out was heartbreaking. It was murder. My wonderful friend will never be able to enrich the lives of my children as I know he would have.

I don’t think I’ll ever lose my fear and dread: not of Ebola or terrorism or threats to our planet, but the capacity of hate we humans can muster when we are afraid.