One of my favorite writers is a woman who authors the Daily (w)rite, “A daily ritual of writing.” Seriously, she is one of the writers that I never skip or skim. Well, back in June, Damyanti asked a question on her blog: “Ever have fun simply walking the streets?” That prompt gave me the inspiration to glom a few random thoughts and stories into this post. So, it’s either her fault or it’s to her credit.
For the record, I love walking and I love experiencing the views and the feel of a city that you can only get from the sidewalk. My daughter and I have visited numerous cities, and we have walked our shoes off in all of them but none as often as New York. The first time we visited New York was to make up for the fact that Faith had been too sick to attend a school field trip to the Statue of Liberty. I took her there but on that visit, we stood more than we walked.
I always get a kick out of the TV shows where someone visits NY and visits the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, sees a Broadway Play and takes a carriage ride through Central Park all in one day. We have done all of those things, but they each take hours and hours to do and most of those hours are spent standing in line.
A few months after that first visit, on a frigid winter day, we visited New York just to walk around. This started three traditions. First, despite freezing temperatures, pouring rain, blistering heat and the wind that is manufactured and / or amplified by the city’s skyline, we visit New York often. Second, I bought Faith a pair of earrings that day. The next time we were in New York, she spied a pair of earrings that she liked and suggested that “since it’s kind of a tradition that you buy me a pair of earrings when we visit New York…” Earrings, I can buy. It’s shoes and clothing that I have a problem with as I wrote about earlier.
The third tradition is just plain weird. Shortly after arriving in New York, we found ourselves standing opposite from the New York City Library waiting for the light to change or the flow of traffic to ebb. A tourist approached us and asked “can you give me directions to the library?” We didn’t know yet how to find many things in NYC, but we both pointed toward the huge building across the street. The man was very happy. Since then, I’ve lost track of the number of times that Faith and I (either while together or while traveling alone) have arrived in a new city, only to be stopped and asked for directions. Ironically, most of the time, we have been able to provide them. I was even asked directions while I was trying to find a train station in London. I was lost, but I had recently passed the street the man was looking for.
Earlier this summer, I spent the better part of a week in Washington, D.C. I arrived the day before a series of meetings were to start and I decided to walk from the train station to my hotel. I hadn’t counted on two things: One, it was hot. There’s a saying that goes:
“People from the north think Washington, D.C. is in the south and people from the south think it’s in the north.”
Well, from a weather point of view, hot and sticky Washington, D.C. is absolutely – in – the – south.
The second thing that I wasn’t counting on was construction that would interrupt the sidewalk a few times as I traveled 0.8 miles dragging a wheeled suitcase. Halfway through my hike, a man approached and asked me if I knew where New York Avenue was. I hadn’t been to Washington, D.C. in years, but I was heading to a hotel on Massachusetts Ave a block east of where it almost intersects New York Ave. I had seen it on Google Maps right before I left Union Station.
Adding to the heat of the Nation’s Capital and the cold that only New York can manufacture, is the fact that both my daughter and I are prone to stop to take photographs. While in Washington, I took the picture shown at the right and I missed the walk cycle at the intersection. I got some funny looks, which prompted me to tweet:
I might miss a light while snapping a quick pic, but Faith will make you freeze or bake or do that little dance if you happen to have to pee, but she isn’t going to be rushed away from a photo. She’s a pro, and I’ve watched her standing or kneeling with her camera pointed at something and I’ll be thinking “let’s go while we’re young” (cuz I know she likes Caddyshack too) but she will wait for something to be right; until the image she sees in the camera matches the one that she sees in her mind.
Recently, I was in Woburn, MA (for those of you not familiar with the language of Massachusetts, that’s pronounced Woo·burn), for a couple of meetings. I’d been to Woburn before and I have always stayed at the same hotel. Each time that I would drive in, I passed this sign and I thought “I’ve never seen a swan crossing sign before” but I never stopped to see the swans. I’d always been in a hurry. This time, I took some time before dinner to walk around the office park and I found Eunice and Cornelius. That was certainly worth the walk.