About a year and a half ago, I took my very first walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. At the time, I was feeling reflective and wondering where my next step was going to take me. As I stood on the bridge that night, camera phone clicking away at the amazing New York skyline as tons of tourists and locals went about their business, I took a deep breath and looked out at the water and the sky and felt a calmness wash over me. Something about water and the moon just makes everything right in my world.
After that night, I’d walk the bridge a few times more when the weather permitted. After a while it became the one bit of major exercise I did for the season — this girl was never motivated to be in a gym. Walking provides me with solace to clear my head when I’m down, transportation in absence of a car or reliable public transportation, and a justifiable argument when people ask if I work out.
One sunny day last October, I decided to expand my horizons and step my workout up a notch. I was staying in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, with a girlfriend who lived close to the Manhattan Bridge. I’d always ridden over the bridge on the subway, but had never traveled it by foot. This particular day, I not only walked that bridge, but I made my way downtown to cross back over on the Brooklyn Bridge.
By the end of it, I’d walked roughly four or five miles that day, but for some reason that accomplishment didn’t consume my thoughts as much as my perception of the Manhattan Bridge in comparison to the Brooklyn Bridge. My exact thoughts could be summed up with one word: Ghetto.
To me, the MB was dull, cold, and almost abandoned by human pedestrians. The graffiti and obstructive trees that blocked the pathway gave me the impression I could potentially die there, and whether I’d be found was questionable. I’d been spoiled by the beauty and bustle of the more famous bridge with its visitor friendly nooks for photo ops, art and refreshment vendors and bench accommodations for couples and lazy people. That it led me to better neighborhoods was an added bonus.
Then it struck me… I was a New York snob. I turned my nose up at something because it didn’t look the way I wanted it to, and lacked the so-called “glamour” of its counterpart. Never mind that it gets you where you want to go just as effectively — maybe even more so with less traffic. The revelation was jarring since I’d always bristled at being judged because I didn’t fit a certain style, yet my hypocrisy was on display, and I could only imagine where else it had arisen (I’m pretty clued in on a few instances, though).
It also occurred to me how much I had taken being a New Yorker for granted. For years, I worked in Rockefeller Center, so consumed in my work mode and irritated by the presence of tourists that I rarely took a moment to take in the beauty of the most famous tree in the world and all the incredible lights and music and pageantry on display in the streets and in the store windows. I can’t remember the last time I did the Circle Line cruise, or the Statue of Liberty. It’s been over thirty years since I’d been to the Empire State Building, and several since my last jaunt to the Bronx Zoo.
My first Botanical Gardens experience was a week ago, and I only ended up there upon the suggestion of an ex-boyfriend from ten years ago — now a married father of a two-year old — whom I bumped into on my way to Prospect Park. It was only fitting that we’d run into each other on a day I’d be once again thinking about where my life was and where it was going. It also happened to be the day of the full moon, and a half hour after he crossed my mind because I remembered that day was his birthday. Life’s kinda funny that way.
These days, I try to venture out each new day with a new perspective and hopefully a more open mind and heart, and less tunnel vision. I’ve been pushing myself more to escape my comfort zone… which I explained in my first entry a little. Mainly, I’m working on being more patient and focused, because I realize that in an effort to be in a big hurry to get life going, I tend to miss very simple things that turn into glaring gaps down the road.
I really do love New York, and all that it has to offer. I’m surrounded by amazing things and people and all the craziness that encompasses us in this city. Now that it’s warmer, the potential for new adventures arises… and for the first time ever… I’m ready.