I’ve always considered myself a city girl. You can ask my parents, I was never cut out for Wisconsin. I was always talking about the places I wanted to visit, and when I was old enough to realize where my life was headed, how they’d have to come visit me in New York. (Which they have. And liked it! Shock horror.)
Now that I’m on the other side of things, however, I’m starting to think I may not be such a city girl after all. I miss lying in bed at night, with only the sound of crickets to keep me company. These days I have a white noise machine and crazy Miguel across the alley, shouting nonsense to nothing and no one. I miss having a yard, even though I hardly ever spent time in it (I was much less outdoorsy as a kid). It was so nice to look out the bay window in the dining room and see trees, you know? There’s not enough greenery in New York (though surprisingly more than you’d expect).
I’ve spent a lot of time away from the city this summer. What with a trip back home, a few D.C. excursions, and weekends in Princeton, I’ve been in town maybe three weekends at best. I’ve been recharging my batteries, so to speak, visiting friends, and exploring new places. I just came back from Princeton a few days ago, where I was visiting my friend Claire. At night, it’s so quiet. The crickets I’ve missed? They’re there. I’m a little obsessed with the place, actually. New Jersey gets a bad rap sometimes, but I don’t think those haters have been to Princeton. If you ever need a break from the city, I’m telling you, that’s where you should be headed.
But while traveling is nice, sometimes you need somewhere local to recharge and gather your thoughts. When I first moved to Harlem last fall, I was surprised and overjoyed to find Riverbank State Park just down the street. It was exactly the sort of thing I’d been looking for. I decided to detour on my way home tonight, and wound up sitting on a bench for an hour, just watching the sun set. With a breeze blowing in off the Hudson, and water lapping at the cement below, I got to take just a few minutes for myself. And we could all stand to do a little bit more of that.