In-the-moment living amid a global health crisis

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Photo by Barrie Kreinik

The first time I heard it, I’d just spent a whole night sitting by my father’s bed in the ICU. He was gravely ill and we didn’t know why. The doctors said he might not make it. Shock and horror and grief and anxiety were all tangled into one stomach-sized knot. When I spoke to my therapist on the phone, one of the things she said was:

“This is what’s happening.”

Well, I know that, I thought. How is that helpful? What did she even mean?

It took me almost two years to figure it out. …

Around every corner is an apparition from my past.

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Photo by Barrie Kreinik: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

It used to happen only now and then.

I’d round a corner, or approach a doorway, or crawl past a building on a crosstown bus, and think: Have I been there before?

It wasn’t your garden-variety déjà vu. It was the peculiar kind of haunting that begins to occur when you’ve lived in one city long enough to fill it with ghosts.

We don’t have to call them that, if the word seems too loaded. We can call them shadows. Glimmers. Fragments. Memories. But ‘memory’ seems too wispy a word for these tangible flashes of the past, which arise unbidden and vanish almost before they’ve arrived. …

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Photo by Barrie Kreinik: WorldPride 2019, NYC.

In June of 2019, in anticipation of World Pride, the New York Times ran an online article called “Tell Us Who You Are.”

“How we define ourselves,” reporter Michael Gold wrote, “feels like an essential act in a world that often rushes to define us first.” After a brief summary of the ways in which identity is morphing beyond traditional binaries, the article stated: “The New York Times wants to know how you identify yourself.” The reader was then invited to fill out an electronic form using 10 or fewer words, beginning with the phrase: “I am.”

After several minutes of deliberation, I…


Barrie Kreinik

Actor, singer, writer, adventurer, New Yorker.

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