New York City.
Dirty and smelly.
Permeated with frenetic drive.
Can’t even begin to explain how much we’ve missed it.
Six months in a Charlotte suburb.
Remember that line from the witch in “Into the Woods?”
“You’re not good. You’re not bad. You’re just nice.”
Let’s just say we’re still experiencing culture shock.
There are days the clean, spacious, sleepy suburban niceness makes me want to chew my foot off.
Digging holes in the backyard helps me work off some of the restlessness.
But a far better remedy for our homesickness was this weekend’s getaway back to New York.
Airport was packed.
A passenger rude to my son.
Stop and go traffic all the way into the city.
Still had to check into our hotel.
Less than 30 minutes to a coveted dinner reservation.
Felt a familiar cranky edginess as my heart started pumping faster.
We dashed across midtown.
Skirted suspicious looking puddles and wove our way past taxis.
I turned to my husband and said,
“This feels so…. normal.”
A part of me screamed at myself,
“How could we have left this?”
Had a crazy fabulous exhausting weekend.
Ate ourselves sick.
Walked over 12 hours the first day.
Wandered through Grand Central.
Hung out with friends.
Ran around for two days straight.
Didn’t even come close to seeing everything and everyone we’ve been missing.
Left this morning with heavy hearts.
…My boys claimed the right to be more sad since they went straight from airport to school…
Walked into our peaceful house.
So quiet I could hear the clocks ticking.
Made myself a cup of tea.
Walked the perimeter of our backyard.
Checked on the Swiss chard.
Ran my fingers along the rosemary to smell their sharp clean scent.
Lifted my face to the sun.
Think part of me will always berate myself for leaving that nutty city we love.
But just as there were reasons to stay,
There were reasons to leave too.
There’s value in a slower, more quiet, manicured life…
Made easier to appreciate when we can indulge in the occasional NY weekend.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 Walkabout
Start point: 5th Avenue and 50th Street
End point: Wall Street and Broad Street
(With a ride on the 4 train from Grand Central to Wall Street)
Duration: 3 hours including a leisurely stop for lunch
Participant: Val, Jin, Si & E
Part of our family Christmas tradition is to bundle up, brave the crowds and check out the city’s Christmas decorations.
First stop this year was the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
I especially like watching the flags whip around in the wind.
Next tree was in the courtyard of the New York Palace Hotel.
In our early NYC days, Jin and I used to stand hand-in-hand outside this courtyard at night.
We loved looking at the lights and marveled at the sheer richness of this city.
Third tree in the lobby of 200 Park Avenue.
Sure, it’s just another fake tree in a big lobby.
But significant to us.
Here’s where we first worked when we transferred from San Francisco to NYC.
Geez, was that really 20 years ago?
Last tree at Broad St (by Wall St).
This big tree in this quiet corner of the city is actually my favorite.
From here it was a brisk walk home for cookie baking and gift wrapping.
Friday, October 10, 2014 Central Park Walkabout
Start point: 59th Street and 5th Avenue
End point: West 90th Street
Duration: 1.5 hours (once again meandering slowly)
Participants: Val & Stacy
We went up to Central Park in hopes of seeing some fall foliage.
Alas, we found only one lone tree with its fall colors.
A little disappointed.
But still… there we were in Central Park
Why not enjoy a bit of nature before heading back to the city streets?
But the “nature” that really caught our attention this day was not what we’d originally thought to see.
Stopped to watch the pigeons rest and poop on the statue in the fountain.
Strangely mesmerized by the funky green algae coating the pond nearby.
Started to gather some fallen acorns but turned away when we noticed folks walking their dogs to do their business under the oak trees.
Three separate but far-too-close-encounters with big brown rats.
Nope, this walkabout was not what we’d imagined.
We still like Central Park.
But maybe a little bit better when viewed from afar…
Friday, October 3, 2014 High Line Walkabout
Start Point: Gansevoort and Washington
End Point: 11th Ave and 34th Street
Duration: 1.5 hours (at a very slow meandering pace)
Participants: Val and Stacy
Though we’ve visited the High Line a number of times,
Neither Stacy nor I had walked it in its entirety.
We started at the south most entrance.
Each with a camera in hand.
Our goals were to see what we could see and
To walk the full High Line.
Breezy, bright fall morning.
A steady stream of pedestrians walking both north and south.
Loved the juxtaposition of plant life growing over tracks and cement.
Tried to identify which bush was giving off that sweetly sour smell.
Curiously peered into people’s homes and terraces.
Stopped to buy a treat from a vendor.
Meandered about with the sun on our faces.
What a marvelous gift – this morning, this place, this opportunity.
Pleasantly rejuvenated by the end of our jaunt.
We exited on 34th street.
Seamlessly merged with folks rushing about their day,
We entered back into our day’s routines.
Friday, June 20, 2014 “Walkabout”
Train: 4 train to 125th Street
Route: South under the Metro-North raised tracks to 116th
Duration: 2 hours (including train rides uptown & back again)
Participants: Stacy & Val
This one wasn’t so much of a walkabout as it was a quick foray to
Still, I’m classifying it as a “walkabout” since we were exploring somewhere brand new to us.
We’d read about this “Uptown Utopia” in the May/June 2014 issue of
We were both so curious to see this place for ourselves.
It’s very cool folks.
And the plants are very reasonably priced.
While Stacy pondered what would look good next to her Blue Fescue,
I wandered into the bamboo hut
They had tutus for sale
“Art on Loan” from a local artist
(shoot, sorry, I forgot to take the name down).
I loved the feel of it in there!
Wish I could have bought some ornamental grass as well.
Unfortunately, I have no deck to plant the Blue Fescue.
I settled for a pretty little pot of moss instead.
Since we visited on a weekday morning, the garden center was quiet.
I’d love to see this place on a summer Saturday afternoon when they have their
I’m especially curious to experiene
That’s roast pig – Korean style!
The Urban Garden Center is definitely on my “return to” list.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 Walkabout
Start point: East Broadway @ the Manhattan Bridge
East on East Broadway
North on Essex
West on Houston
North on Avenue A
West on 6th Street
South on Layfayette
End point: Lafayette @ Houston
Walkabout duration: 3 hours
Participants: Gabriela & Val
I don’t know how many of miles of wandering we did this last walkabout.
But it sure was fun!
There was a little more zigzagging on streets than described in the above route.
And, of course, lots of peaking into windows and stopping into stores.
It was a little battered looking in there,
but quite clean.
I liked the feel of the mini-markets all within one and
I enjoyed perusing the fresh produce & various spices.
By the way, “Loisaida” means Lower East Side.
And boy, has it changed over the last 20 years.
At a glance, it’s still pretty gritty looking.
But there are all sorts of interesting stores to explore and
yummy places to eat at.
But I had a craving for BBQ, so I dragged Gabriela to my current favorite – Mighty Quinn’s
– on 2nd Avenue and 6th street.
I’m really digging these Walkabout NYC days.
It’s shaping up to be a fantastic way to spend time with friends
and it’s exciting to rediscover NYC one neighborhood at a time.
Check back soon for the next Walkabout adventure!