It’s been a long time since I was a true tourist in New York, someone who didn’t know her way around the city and got lost easily. I took the subway by myself for the first time as a sophomore in college, traveling from Grand Central all the way up to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, even navigating a service change. Since then I’ve made my way on my own. Okay, there’s the occasional brain fart where I forget which direction is west and which is east, but besides that, I can get myself around without too much trouble.
That means that I don’t often just wander the city anymore – I’m always on my way from one place to another. It’s efficient when you have to be somewhere by a certain time, but it means I rarely stop to explore my own city, even when I have people visiting me – especially not then, since I’m always trying to show them the parts of New York I already know and love.
Most of my meandering happens in familiar parts of the city – a walk around SoHo after dinner with a friend, around my neighborhood in Brooklyn, or through Prospect Park. If I’m walking for the sake of walking, sometimes I’ll notice places I’ve never seen before even though I’ve passed them a dozen times, and sometimes I’ll take a moment to stop and just enjoy the sunshine. I forget to do that sometimes when I’m on the phone with my mom, walking home from the subway after work, and it’s important to slow down and be present.
A modest proposal for the remaining weeks of summer: I plan to take one free afternoon, pick a neighborhood I haven’t spent much time in, and wander, without a timeline or a destination. My goal will be to get a little lost, because if I do, I might find myself somewhere pretty neat.
Anyone want to join me?