New York City is in some ways my home. I mean, I was born there in a hospital that grew out of a facility originally founded by Elizabeth Blackwell. While I’ve lived in Albany for decades, there will always be a place in my heart that belongs exclusively to my favorite city in the world.
I try to get to down NYC every few months, generally for an overnight stay. On occasion, I actually have a plan, some kind of exhibit or show or event that I travel south to take in. More often, though, I have no specific agenda. I just need to get a fix of energy and inspiration and comfort. Yes, comfort. There’s just something about being surrounded by people of all ages and colors that lets me breathe easier. It just feels good to be part of something bigger than myself and to see uncountable shades of skin colors. Perspective, friends.
Earlier this month, I took advantage of a holiday weekend to get some “me” time in Manhattan. Hotel rates are often discounted on Sunday nights and I scored a sweet deal at the Millennium Hilton ($150!) way downtown in the financial district. I love that part of town, and I wanted to check out an exhibit at the nearby Museum of Jewish Heritage. The Auschwitz exhibit was, as you might imagine, a difficult display to take in, but it seems to me that the more people who witness the horrors of the past, the less likely these atrocities are to be repeated. The terrace just beyond the final gallery of the exhibit beckoned with the offer of fresh air and a direct view of the Statue of Liberty. It makes for a good place to collect one’s thoughts. The exhibit has been extended through next summer and there are numerous lectures and events running concurrently. Don’t miss the gift shop and its collection of books, including the historical fiction novel written by my recent visiting author.
When I’m in the city, I feel a combined sense of ease and excitement. While there’s always something new to see or a change to note, I’m really here to drop in on my regular spots. Over the years I’ve collected a few places that I think of as my own, despite the fact that I share them with countless others. There’s my coffee spot and favorite bakery both on Bleecker Street.
In the same neighborhood is Lupa, the place where I consistently find myself eating, typically at the bar, even when I try to go somewhere new as I did on this most recent visit. The new (to me) Italian restaurant I originally set out for had a two hour wait, while I was greeted at Lupa with the welcomed good fortune of scoring the only available seat at the bar. Obviously, Lupa I and have a special connection.
Why do I continue to return to these and other familiar places like this when I visit a city with thousands upon thousands of other options? Should I be trying harder to experience new things? Is there anything I’m missing by not broadening my horizons?
As I questioned the state of my sense of adventure and wondered how I came to be so…predictable, I came across this article and immediately felt better. It’s possible the appeal of repeating experiences wasn’t a general indication of my lack of curiosity after all. Perhaps it was more my natural impulse to simply enjoy things in a deeper, and ultimately, more satisfying way.
Maybe it’s about finding a balance between being interested and open to new explorations, while continuing to mine familiar experiences for added depth.
In a world in which change occurs at blinding speeds, there’s something wonderful about dropping in at a long time favorite place to find it essentially the same.
Where do you find yourself returning to time and time again?