To say the last 11 days of my life have not gone as expected is an understatement. The equilibrium in our lives has been thrown off. (At some point I’ll write about it. Not yet.) The phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is all that comes to mind as I navigate life right now.
Marc called at eight yesterday morning to tell me Isabelle was sick. My mom wouldn’t be bringing her to NJ to meet me (I’ve been out of town since Wednesday for consulting work.) before I headed to NYC for the TCRWP Writing Institute. My heart sunk. With everything that’s been happening all I wanted was to spend Saturday and Sunday with my little girl. Yet again, plans were changed. (Fortunately, I still got to spend yesterday afternoon and this morning with my Dad. We haven’t had much “daddy-daughter time” since I moved out of Manhattan eight summers ago so it was nice to have some time together.)
My father dropped me off at my hotel around 2 p.m. this afternoon. I checked-in, unpacked, and called Isabelle’s new preschool teacher who emailed me with some questions last week. Once I hung up I realized I could stop acting like a mommy and do something — myself. I walked to the Subway went to 14th St. I decided I’d walk from the bottom to the top of the High Line and then head back to use the hotel gym. But that didn’t happen because I got off on 12th and 7th, made a wrong turn, and found myself “lost” in the Village. (Even though I lived in the NY Metropolitan Area for more than half of my life, I am pretty clueless about finding my way around the unnumbered streets.)
I sat down on a bench, pulled out my phone, and opened the map app. I wasn’t that far from the High Line, but what if I took a detour. What if I went where the City took me, regardless of whether or not I knew where I was going. What if I walked without purpose, but with heightened awareness like NYT Travel Writer, Stephanie Rosenbloom, did through Paris last year? So instead of walking straight to the High Line, I strolled from the Village to the Meatpacking District. Eventually, I landed up in front of Chelsea Market. Maybe I could go to Ronnybrook to get some ice cream? Sure I could! I was a flâneur (or would it be a flâneuse since I’m a woman?) in Manhattan!
I meandered through the Market and learned Ronnybrook was no longer open. Drat! I kept walking, looking for something gluten-free to settle my sweet tooth. A couple walked by me with cups of gelato.
“Excuse me. Where did you get that?” I asked.
They pointed behind them. “At the end of the Market.”
I walked a little farther and found a gelato stand. Rather than going for my usual chocolate chip, I sampled some new flavors, specifically amarana variegato (milk cream with sour cherries) and mascarpone (Italian fresh cheese). Each one delighted my taste buds in unexpected ways. I purchased a cup with both flavors. Instead of eating in the Market, I held my cup and walked towards the High Line.
And then I walked. I walked from 16th Street to 32nd Street stopping every now and then to sit down to people watch, to look at the City, or to watch helicopters landing and taking-off. But then, just as I was about to embark on the last two blocks of my walk, I got a hankering for a bagel. I started searching for bagel shops with gluten-free bagels (NOT EASY!). Eventually, found one that was open until 7 p.m., except it was on Sixth Avenue and 13th Street. (I was sitting on the equivalent of 32nd St. and 12th Avenue, which is quite a hike.) It was 5:30 p.m. so I could make it… as long as my feet could hold up. I was wearing flip flops, not sneakers, because I didn’t expect to do so much walking.
Once my brain started thinking about a bagel with lox and cream cheese, I decided I was going to stroll back to 14th St. But, oye, my feet. They were aching by the time I reached the 16th St. section of the High Line, which is why finding High Line water feature happened at the perfect time I plodded right through it — though I kept my flip flops on, thankyouverymuch!
I walked down the stairs at 14th Street and started walking east towards Ninth Avenue. As much as I wanted to walk to Sixth Avenue, I just couldn’t. I could still wander and think even if I was on the bus.
And so I did.
I was delighted to walk into Murray’s Bagels on Sixth Avenue (which is ‘related’ to the Murray’s in Chelsea I frequented for years when I was able to consume regular bagels) to find they had whole grain gluten-free bagels. And even though it didn’t taste anything like a delicious NY bagel, it was a better-than-nothing vessel to deliver the nova and cream cheese into my body. And that made me happy.
By the time I finished my bagel dinner, I decided to walk towards the Subway. I couldn’t walk to Midtown with the way my feet felt. (NOTE TO SELF: Wear sneakers the next time you engage in flânerie!) Three and half hours after leaving my hotel room, I had returned. I put my feet up for a few minutes before heading into a shower.
I can’t remember the last time I wandered around, with no particular place to go, with time to think and for hours on end. While I would have preferred to have spent today with Isabelle and my parents in Manhattan, I have to admit, my 4+ mile stroll was a lovely treat.