So I decided that I was going to take only one pair of shoes to New York. That decision — when combined with a few transportation snafus — turned out to be a big mistake.
I decided on the one pair of shoes because it was such a short trip. I try to pack light, and I thought it would make sense to take just one pair of shoes that went with all two (two!) outfits I took with me.
Here’s my unsolicited travel advice on shoes: if you’re only going to take one pair, please make sure that they’re comfortable for an entire day of walking, not just a few hours. The shoes I brought were comfortable enough (I thought) and went with all my clothes. But I had never done miles of walking in these shoes, and they turned out to be, well, not so comfortable. Mid-way through my weekend, I would have killed for my comfy Merrells.
That being said, I had a lovely time wandering the streets of the city. Part of my exploring was because of track work on the subway that prevented me from taking trains all the way to my destination. But I choose to see that as a serendipitous event that led me to see more of the above-ground part of the city (even if it was at the expense of my feet).
New York felt different to me on this visit. It wasn’t as alien as it was when I was younger. I remember visiting New York City in the 1980s and seeing lots of motorcycle jackets, green mohawks and graffiti — stuff I rarely saw in my hometown.
Maybe it was because I wasn’t in the section of town that has the tallest skyscrapers. Or maybe I’ve become accustomed to visiting other urban cities in my travels since I was last in New York City. Whatever the reason, it seems like the city has changed a lot since my first visit so long ago. But I’ve changed a lot, too. Maybe if I went back in time and ran into those mohawked punk rockers from the 1980s as my present self, I’d have a much more relaxed reaction to them.
On this trip for the first time, I felt sort of… at home in New York. I walked down sidewalks that weren’t clogged with people. And the people I saw didn’t seem to be in a crazy important rush to get somewhere. They were friendly and stopped to help me when I was lost and asked for directions. I stopped in early one morning at an Amish market that had beautiful baskets of fruit and vegetables.
I didn’t go anywhere near any touristy or business areas, so maybe on this trip I’ve finally seen a side of New York that most short-term visitors don’t get to see: the real, everyday New York City that people actually live in instead of just visit.