I was a true New Yorker once. I walked whenever I could, took the subway if I had to and a hailed a cab only when necessary. Just before we moved to Connecticut, a co-worker teased me and told me to practice saying the following: “We’re from Connecticut. Can’t we pay somebody to do that?” I must have taken that to heart because when I finally did make it back to the city from our sleepy little town in the country I became one of those people who took cabs a lot, walked when I had to and avoided the subway like the plague.
On one of my first days as a semi-New Yorker, I figured out that if I lived in our apartment like I would if I was staying in a hotel, things were going to get expensive pretty fast. For only $2.75 (and yes, I am old enough to remember when it was $0.25) I needed to be taking the subway more often and foregoing the expensive cab rides unless absolutely necessary. Besides, the S-Health app on my phone had been nagging me to get more active so walking would probably be a better option.
The subway is a fact of life for most New Yorkers. You have to admit that it’s a convenient and inexpensive way of getting around the city. But you also have to admit that it’s dirty, filthy in fact, smells awful most of the time and is not always the safest method of getting around depending on the time of day and where you are heading.
Our apartment in Stuy Town is conveniently located near the L train which runs East/West along 14th Street and connects to several of the major subway lines that then run North/South across Manhattan. Not a line I’ve ever taken or explored before. But the apartment is all the way on the East side of the city and sometimes where I am heading is on the West side of the city. The L train connects the two.
On a whim I had made an appointment with a designer from One Kings Lane in Soho. We have the bare basics right now in the apartment: a sleeper sofa and two chairs in the living room from Crate and Barrel, a desk and chair from IKEA, a dining room table and chairs from the house that we’ve had forever, a queen sized bed bought on a whim at the Sleepy’s across from Stuy Town and an oversized chair that folds out into a twin sized bed (also from Crate and Barrel) Oh, yes. A rug. We have one area rug that adds the only pop of color in the place right now. Most of the furniture is grey. The walls of the apartment are still white. The place is very bare bones and it needs some perking up. Ok, lots of perking up. Soon, I will make my mark with paint and artwork but I needed a direction and some inspiration. What better than a free design consultation? But first, I needed to figure out how to get from the apartment to Soho. And I wasn’t up for a 40 minute walk. I pulled up Google Maps and popped in where I wanted to go. It suggested the L train with a transfer to the C train to Spring Street and a short walk to my destination. No problem.
Metro Card in hand, I headed down into the subway. Just keep in mind that I have not lived in the city since 1989. And while I have come in to New York often, I have avoided the subway like the plague. I have sadly turned both of my children subway averse. My son will walk for miles before setting foot on a train. My daughter is completely clueless about how to get around the city other than walking or getting in a taxi. I am going to have to change all that.
I grew up in New York City. Not Manhattan. I grew up in the Rockaways in Queens. But hey, that counts. We lived near the last stop on the A train. The Mott Avenue Station. As soon as I was old enough, which if I remember correctly was some time in High School, my friends and I would get on the A train and head in to New York, a trip that took pretty close to 2 hours but it got us in to the city to see concerts and sometimes even plays. It’s a long trip but one of the most beautiful subway trips you will ever take. The elevated line to the Rockaways takes you past the Atlantic Ocean and across Jamaica Bay before winding it’s way through Brooklyn and into Manhattan. I can remember watching breathtaking sunsets over the Bay on long trips home from the city. They are some of my most treasured memories of growing up in NY.
I worked in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn for awhile as a young adult while I was going to school at FIT in Manhattan. I remember sleeping for most of the 45 minute train trip into the City from work so I could go to the gym and then classes at night. Somehow, I never missed my stop. I’d wake up from my train induced slumber, note that I still had my purse and my wallet and continue on with the rest of my day.
All of that came back to me in a flood of memories. I knew that I’d have no issues getting around because riding the subways was already embedded in my DNA. I got on the train, made my transfers, and got off. With a brief moment to re-orient myself on the street, I headed off to my meeting knowing that I could pretty much get anywhere I needed to go. Manhattan was once again, my oyster.