We went to The City - no, not Syracuse or Auburn - The City over Thanksgiving weekend. Alex and Rachel have a new apartment, a one bedroom, that of course would fit neatly into our living/family room area. But for them it's huge. I remember Mary Tyler Moore wanting four walls around her kitchen; Alex and Rachel wanted a door to the bedroom. They also got more than one closet! Lovely upper east side apartment - third floor, hardwood floors, windows, "quiet" street near Gracie Mansion.
We were there about ten minutes, not including the half hour it took to find a parking spot, when we went "for a walk." First there was lunch at a diner a few blocks away - oh, the pastrami! Then we toured the park surrounding the mansion and on the river. Then we walked - and walked - and walked.
I say it like that, but it wasn't. As the November day softened around us we saw where Rachel teaches and her mother, now retired, coaches other teachers. We went to her gym for a quick stop. We roamed Central Park and Alex's favorite place, The Ramble. Coming out on the west side they showed us Rachel's parents' condo when they stayed in town - the kids' bedroom is larger than the whole place! But that's okay - the price was right - low $300,000. For that you could almost get a new 3 bedroom home in Parcell Woods!
We took a cab home and I realized how far we must have walked. But I didn't care - we had been engaged in the sights and sounds the whole time. I told Bob I wanted to walk like that, but really there was no place. Alex walks home from work on very good days, Rachel walks to work every morning (14 minutes). They walk to dinner, to shows, for coffee and bagels. There is a purpose to their walking. We say that everyone's thin in New York because they walk everywhere and can't afford to eat.
Back at home we can eat! We walk, too, out in the back on the acreage, in the village up West Street. But there's an aimlessness to it, a too-pointed attempt to be healthy, exercise camouflaged. Bob suggested that I make my walks purposeful. Park at Austin Park and walk to the office, carry letters to the Elbridge post office a mile and a half away, walk to Creekside (I'd have to!) instead of driving...
So I wrote the bills early Sunday morning and walked out to post them. I walked past the cows and saw the sheep on the far hills, I used the new sidewalk just being put in by Sylvan Street in the village. I mailed my letters and then came home again up the hill, meeting new neighbors who had just moved in to one of the five houses I passed. Sorry, it wasn't the same!
I meant to park at Austin the next day when I went in to the village, but it was raining, I was in a hurry, and there was a metered space right outside the office. I did get in my walk at the Dome during half time. It felt better, amidst all those people. I was going somewhere, even if it was just around.
Walking is bliss. I am envious of the kids' chance to live in one of the greatest cities of all time when they are young enough to enjoy it. I am also envious of Bernie and Susan who are able to come in from their country home and see shows, stay overnight on a whim. But I also know I am like them. I wouldn't trade my house, the acres and paths, the dogs or the cats, to live in The City. But thank goodness I can go visit!