It’s a little daunting to realize that New York is six times the size of DC—that’s a lot of territory to discover. Slowly, but surely, I have been expanding my city footprint one walk at a time. Lately, instead of getting off at the subway stop for work, I’ll get off one early or one late, then I’ll pick a direction approximately towards the office and just start walking. Other times, I’ll grab a Citibike and set off towards a stretch of Harlem I haven’t visited yet and just see what lives on those streets. In doing this, I now know the location of bookstores, and coffeeshops, and cheeseshops (!), and pocket parks, that I may not have discovered if I was limited to Google and Yelp recommendations. I love walking through neighborhoods and seeing the type of people who live there too.
The challenge of New York though, is the sheer quantity of options. Want to find the place with the best dumplings? New Yorkers have told Google and Yelp that twelve places have worthy dumplings, so now you’re left to visit all of them until you find your favorite from among them. A lot of self-discovery, a lot of trial and error. And the same goes for many New York establishments—there is always another customer, so what makes you so special and worthy of our attention?
Mostly though, I miss knowing the quirks of my neighborhood—of being so intimately acquainted that you notice when the Barbie pond changes themes, or the menu at your favorite spot gets an upgrade, or you’ve watched kids grow up over years of Sundays at the farmers market. We’re a long way from being regulars here, but for now I’m living for the subtle nod I get from the old man down the street—a simple acknowledgement that we’ve seen each other before and are likely to again.
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