slice of life

Flânerie

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.)

IMG_7418My 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!

Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market

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.

Eating gelato on the High Line was such a treat!
Eating gelato on the High Line was such a treat!
I've never noticed this telescope on the High Line until today.
I’ve never noticed this telescope on the High Line until today.
Watching the choppers at the West 30th Street Heliport.
Watching the choppers at the West 30th Street Heliport.

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!

Oh, my aching feet! (Fortunately, my flip flops have high arches, so I don't think I did any damage to my feet.)
Oh, my aching feet! (Fortunately, my flip flops have high arches, so I don’t think I did any damage to my feet.)

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.

Wishes do come true!
Wishes do come true!

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.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

 

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24 thoughts on “Flânerie

  1. Stacey, this is a beautiful slice of your life. Thank you for sharing it. Also, I know you were missing your little one and this was a really great opportunity for you to remember to treat yourself now and then.

  2. I confess, I’d never heard of the word, flânerie, before this post and now it may be one of my new favorite words! The gift of time and caring for yourself is precious. The day didn’t turn out as you’d planned, but look at what you made of it. I’m hungry after reading about all of the yummy food and I want to return to the High Line. LOVED it there! Hope the wandering did your soul some good!!

  3. That sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon. And New York is a great place to do it. Did you buy extra bagels to take home, or were they not worth the effort?

  4. Though it’s always disappoint when you miss time with family (well, usually – I guess it depends on the family!), this small adventure sounds like something you needed. To wander the city following no particular guide but your own inner voice… we don’t get a lot of opportunities to do those things anymore. And ice cream and a bagel? Well worth it. 🙂

  5. Frequently during the rough patch my family has been going thru people have encouraged “take time for yourself!” Very often easier said than done. Especially for a doer. It sounds as though an opportunity to take time for yourself literally fell at your feet!

  6. Sounds like a really enjoyable day. I have never just strolled around Manhattan. Kathy and I are headed to NYC tomorrow to celebrate our birthdays, but out dai is planned with two shows and dinner at City Lobster and Steak on 49th Street. Glad you enjoyed your impromptu walk.

  7. I found myself getting lost on my way to the High Line last year after TCRWP summer intensive so I can picture your walk. (makes me really appreciate the importance of schema for our young readers:) I am especially impressed by your decision to go with the flow and try a new ice cream flavor…that takes an adventurous spirit. I wish you strength and patience in whatever you and your family are going through. Sounds like the universe is already working with you.

  8. It’s nice to see that through the disappointment of not seeing Isabelle you made the time to savor some old times, and then explored new ones, too. I enjoyed taking the walk with you, Stacey.

  9. All those places deserved to be strolled through aimlessly. You did a great job taking us there. All the important stuff: food, getting lost, sore feet. Yep, that’s the New York experience I love.

    While it wasn’t what you expected or wanted, I’m glad you had the opportunity to enjoy!
    Julieanne

  10. What a fabulous day you have described! Honestly, it sounds as if you had exactly the outing you really needed. It sounded rejuvenating, freeing. I laughed out loud at this line – “I could still wander and think even if I was on the bus.” Great!

  11. A day at your disposal, what a gift of time and adventure. Sometimes we get what we need, not what we want. It is only later that you can reflect on how this time was just what was needed on this day.

  12. I’m so impressed with your endurance! Normally, I love to walk; but this summer, I have barely walked around our block. You captured the beauty of your adventure and helped me see the streets of New York from the comfort of my sofa. (You have also motivated me to get up off the sofa so I can have a walking adventure of my own!)

  13. Stacey,
    Your serendipitous day sounds perfect. Glad you were able to wander and wonder…you’ll always be able to cherish this day even though it didn’t work out how it was originally planned.

  14. “What if I went where the City took me, regardless of whether or not I knew where I was going,” reminds me of when my son encouraged me to hop on a bus with him in Paris. We got off whenever we saw something we were interested in. I was petrified, but it was a fun adventure.
    So glad you had time to meander. The water feature must have been so refreshing. I hope Isabelle is on the mend. I know you’ll be glad to see her.

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