I’ve had a few emails and personal messages asking how I’m doing, what I’m doing, and what my life looks like. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so here are four pictures that will hopefully help satisfy some curiosity and allay any concerns about my well-being:
And in case those pictures weren’t enough, let me also say that my people here have been as good to me as they always were. In a lot of ways, it feels like I never left; in others, it feels like years have passed. I think I’ll be exploring that grey area between foreign and familiar for some time, but that’s just fine with me.
Some time ago, home stopped meaning places and started meaning people. Home is where my people are, wherever it is they happen to be. Home is multiple places at once because I’m lucky enough to have friends and family members the world over.
But Rochester, New York is my first home. My longest home. Rochester is the place I know the best and the place I feel safest. It’s where my immediate family lives, where my oldest friends are from and where some still are. It’s a place of both fond memories and dark moments, times of absolute elation and the deepest uncertainty. Rochester and its people have raised me and only asked that I remember where I come from wherever I go.
Rochester is technically a mid-size city on the shores of the Genesee River and Erie Canal, but it’s very much a small town. People are friendly, the pace of life is calm, and there’s a sense of collective responsibility and a spirit of helpfulness. People make connections with others, knowing they’ll cross paths again. Rochesterians have a sense of genuine pride in their city that they want to share with others. It’s not enough that we love our town and that we’ve made our homes here; we want you to feel the same way.
I’ve called other places home since going away for college back in 2008, but Rochester has always been home home. No matter where in the world I am, it always will be.
Hike the First: Urban
At around 3:40pm every weekday afternoon, one of my colleagues crosses off a day on the chart pinned above her desk. A few others join in for a song that might remind discerning listeners of a ditty involving bottles of a certain beverage. There’s one fewer bottle at the end of each verse. (Following? Good.)
For me, this countdown also means that there are fewer and fewer days to complete my exploration of New York City. I’ve been wanting to walk the Brooklyn Bridge for a while and mentioned it to a friend a couple weeks ago. The forecast promised (and delivered!) a dry weekend, so off on an adventure we went!
We took the 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge City Hall and followed the crowds. For whatever reason, I didn’t expect to be as high up as we were or to literally walk over traffic. It was very crowded, very loud, and a really neat sensory experience to be walking on concrete over the East River. There were skyscrapers behind and in front of us, and miles of river on either side.
Looking towards Brooklyn:
Looking towards Manhattan (the far more spectacular view):
Architecturally, the bridge is also just really beautiful:
Once back on the ground in Dumbo, we decided it was time to find something to eat. We ended up at Untamed Sandwiches, which was absolutely delicious. And they compost! So that was exciting, too. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is right along the water and it was a warm enough day for that, so we stopped there before walking through Brooklyn Bridge Park. It reminded me of the microcreamery where I worked over the summers during high school and college. Lines out the door, ice cream machines in the back, smells of milk and sugar, cash only. Delicious.
Brooklyn Bridge Park leads through a garden right up along the river, providing more views of Manhattan:
I’ve spent very little time in Brooklyn and I have no excuse for that since I live one stop from Brooklyn on the L. It really does feel like a completely different city and that’s enjoyable on its own. The streets have real names, the elevation of the land actually changes, the buildings are lower, and there seems to be more space in the sky. Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are as distinct from one another as Manhattan’s and I don’t know them nearly as well as I’d like to. Now that the weather is nice enough to do some real exploring, it’s time to change that.
Hike the Second: Nature
After wandering through an art show on University Place on Sunday and seeing beautiful photographs of nature, I wanted to find some. I sent a message to my urban hiking buddy and headed to Cranberry Lake Preserve in Westchester for a change of scenery.
The first thing I noticed, much like when we explored Silver Lake Preserve, was the air. It smelled fresh and earthy, clean and new. That I even noticed tells me that I’ve spent far too much time in the city.
We followed a couple different trails to see where they’d lead and I climbed some logs because it’s fun to be tall, but I’d really classify this as an easy walk rather than a hike. Hiking involves mountains and sweating and legs that are satisfyingly achy when you’re done. This was just pretty, which was perfectly fine with me.
There were a lot of fallen trees that looked as though they’d been there for decades . . .
. . . some really great trail markers . . .
. . . and, of course, water!
I love all forms of exploring and being outside. I don’t have that much time left here to do it and there’s a lot to do!
Happy trails, wherever they are!
Photos, travels, musings, and ideas on education by a twenty-something teacher trying to make the world a better and more peaceful place