Today I went for a run in New York City. I am back for one of my many visits. This city gets me every time; one way or another it gets me. Do you know what I mean? As I ran through the brownstone-lined, charming side streets in Chelsea, I couldn’t help but get all nostalgic. Coming back here always brings up various memories, one of the largest centering around my grandmother who lived in Chelsea for around 3 decades. That was my ‘home’ whenever I was in the city. She was the center of it all. Running right past her building brought instant tears to my eyes. How strange is it, even two years after her death (she was 94 and lived an amazing full life), to not be seeing her here in her city. She loved it here. She always said she could go right out of her door and get everything and anything she needed – and she did. She was fierce and independent, qualities I realized much too late that I had learned from her.
As I ran toward the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side, I was still in awe of the transformations that have taken place here since I was a kid visiting from the ‘burbs of New Jersey in the 70s and 80s. What was once an edgy, gritty, and downright dirty area full of warehouses and traffic edging right up to the water, is now a gorgeous green park area full of families and runners and cyclists. It makes me smile. It is one long band of green parkland and running paths running along side the river, as well as piers for walking and sitting and kissing. It’s beautiful and made me want to live here again. The revitalized High Line is nearby snaking it’s way through Chelsea parallel to the river. It’s another makeover that makes me proud of this city.
I stopped on a pier and gazed across at New Jersey where I’d just come from and where I literally come from. It looked a bit closer at this point. I could see Jersey City to the south and then Hoboken right across from me and Weehawken to the north. Cities I had never once explored as a kid. I mean why would you bother, when they were so close to THE city?
As I sat there catching my breath (not a fan of running), I noticed people gawking down river, and there I saw it, a huge navy ship heading our way. Of course. It was Fleet Week, the Navy’s annual docking of active military ships around the city.
Leave it to this city to present you with gifts and spectacles when you don’t even expect it. It seems in other places we often wonder ‘what to do?’ But here in New York, it’s as simple as going out your front door and just happening upon something special. It’s a case of not finding something to do, but it finding you.
Okay, yes, being here makes me all ‘thoughty’ and pensive. It makes me contemplate. You always hear about people needing space and air and a virtual Walden Pond to really think. But I find the opposite true. The energy that is New York City always makes me feel something. I realized it was five years ago now that I was planning my escape, my trip around the world, which ended up lasting about two years more than I expected it to. And my life has never been the same since. I am now working for myself full time. I have never fully gone back to the life I left in 2006 and it was a good life. I am forever in flux; changing, bending, molding to what tomorrow brings. Five years ago I was working full time for ABC television. I was living in my plush two-bedroom condo with my cat and boyfriend. Now I’ve downsized significantly to a smaller apartment, no car, less stuff (and I keep selling off more), less responsibilities, less bills, less carbon foot print. And I love it. Less is truly more.
I don’t get too personal on this blog. I mean that to say, I get somewhat personal, but just about me. I don’t drag others into the fray. Now I am sharing my life with someone and solo hasn’t just become a couple, I could be given the gift of an instant family. Is this necessarily what I’ve always wanted? No. And it’s not what I ever expected. But like New York, life has surprised me yet again. And now I am considering leaving my beloved Chicago behind and returning here, yet again, to New York. It’s funny how everything changes. But isn’t it the changes that make us grow and learn and be?