What Will Tomorrow Be Like?

My name is Margaret Floyd and I am 70 years old.  I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and moved to the Bronx in 2008.   I graduated from Pace University with a bachelor’s degree and from Columbia Business School with an MBA in management and human resources.  I’ve worked for several banks including Citibank, Chase and Deutsche Bank. I retired from Carver Bank, an African American run bank located in Harlem NY, in 2011 as their Chief Human Resources Officer.  After two years of retirement, I opted to accept a position with the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) as a Housing Assistant supporting the residents of the Monroe Houses in the Soundview section of the Bronx.  I was promoted to an Assistant Manager within one year and transferred to the Castle Hill Houses where I also joined the Kips Bay Castle Hill Senior Center.  Unfortunately, I slipped and fell on the ice one day in March of 2015 and had to retire from NYCHA due to a head injury as a result of the accident.  I have a traumatic brain injury and nerve damage in my neck and I am subject to seizures and a stroke, but I don’t let that stop me.

I decided to enroll in the Bronx Documentary Center (“BDC”) photography class offered at the Castle Hill Senior Citizen Center as another activity to keep me busy and continuously learning.  Although I like to take pictures, I’d never had a real interest in photography. However, the class has trained me to see more than what I used to see. I now see the patterns and shapes, the colors, the interaction of light and shadows, and even the texture of objects in my surroundings.  I’ve learned that I prefer to take photographs of clouds in the sky, portraits in the mirror and patterns in landscapes (I suspect it may have something to do with a relationship to my need for organization and order).

I started my third BDC photography class (an advanced class) two weeks before New Yorkers were ordered to shelter-in-place to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and all the senior centers were closed.  As senior citizens, we are considered more vulnerable to catching the disease and less likely to survive it.  So, our photographs had to be limited to our immediate surroundings. Though limited to my environment, what I was able to observe, and photograph, was limited only by my imagination. 

My photographs reflect what I have now been trained to see: the fullness in the emptiness of a blue sky with the lazily floating white clouds. I can see the vibrant purple color in the iris flowers bending over after a hard rain in my garden.  I’ve noticed patterns in mirrored reflections and objects and shapes of buildings and cars parked on the deserted streets. I see the texture of food, the sunlight reflecting through the window and so much more.  I no longer consider myself just a picture-taker but a photographer.

Standing on my front steps. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon. The streets are deserted - no people walking by, no cars driving by. Bronx NY. May 2020.

Quarantined in my home. Looking out the window through the Venetian blinds has an illusion of looking at the outside world behind vertical prison bars. The sky is clear but the world is fuzzy and unclear. Bronx NY. April 2020.

I used a tightly woven cotton pillowcase to make washable, reusable face masks. They hang by the door so I can quickly grab one when I need to go out. Bronx NY. May 2020.

Our first date and our wedding day. Bronx NY 1999 and New York NY 2004.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike. Roads are empty. Skies are clear. Air is clean. Rutherford NJ. April 2020.

In my laundry room. I’ve always kept these disinfecting wipes on hand not knowing that one day they would be such a sought after commodity. Bronx NY April 2020.

Some people say why bother to shower and get dressed if we can’t leave the house and there’s nothing to do. I say, get up every morning, shower and get dressed and find something to do. Bronx NY. May 2020.

My clock collection. I’m obsessed with time and being on time. I accumulated these clocks over the years. Every time I changed offices or received a promotion, I would get a clock for my new desk. It is interesting to see that each one stopped working at a different time and, just like me, none of them are currently working. New York NY. 1990-2011.

In my basement. These teddy bears were given to each of my husbands as get well gifts when each was in the hospital just before they passed away. I’ve kept them because unlike pictures, they seem to keep me company. There was something about the ambiance and the lighting on this day that made them seem to let me know everything is going to be alright. Bronx NY, April 2020.

Looking down the stairs. Just like the coronavirus pandemic, just when you think there’s a plateau, it continues on and you can’t really see the bottom. Bronx NY. April 2020.

My high school yearbook picture. The yearbook is the third book from the top. Brooklyn NY 1968.

Standing in my backyard, I watch as the clouds pass over and darken the buildings. Bronx NY. March 2020.

It’s been two months since we were ordered to stay at home. I’m wondering when will it end. Even the clouds have changed their shapes but the sky is still blue so there is hope. Bronx NY. May 2020.

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