On Saturday, Tyler and I took a trip out to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. As we walked east, up the slope, I realized that I’ve felt trapped these past few months, commuting back and forth from Carroll Gardens to Chelsea. Back and forth. Up and down. The same few streets, the same insides of the subway car, the glow of the computer screen, escaping work only to find that the sun has already dropped in the sky, wondering where the time, the day, has gone.
Travelling to Sunset Park felt like freedom. In the spring, summer and fall that’s the way we spend our weekends and evenings. Trolling around the city, exploring on our bikes or by foot, eating at food vendors, paying 50 cents for the Coney Island museum and taking part in all the strange activities a city like New York can offer.
As we walked up the slope, we saw the string of bodegas, discount shops, and dollar stores, heard the loud Latin beats, watched a little boy ride his skateboard head first as he soared down the sidewalk on his stomach, while his Grandfather shouted and cheered, speaking frantically in Spanish.
But as we continued on, only one avenue away, the neighborhood transformed. Everyone walked with purpose, carrying dozens of orange plastic bags and there were groceries and markets spilling out into the streets, the forceful, jerky, often startling speech of Mandarin as we made our way through to Pacificana, a Dim Sum restaurant in the middle of Chinatown, Brooklyn.
For a brief moment, we found ourselves having to travel the wrong direction on the subway (due to construction), edging out farther, farther on the island than we wanted to, into Bay Ridge, listening to the Russian women gossip in their soft woolen coats, until we turned back around and found a new course back.
I marvelled at the change. How we shifted through cultures and rediscovered our own traditions. Because that is what we do when we’re not bundled and clothed, our feet aching in rubber boots, our chins scratchy against the the woolen scarves. We explore. And I’ve missed that, trapped as we’ve been in the dark days of winter.