It’s 6:46pm on a Friday in New York City and I’m in bed with my socks pulled over my pajama legs, reaching every couple minutes for the pita and hummus on my nightstand.
The pita and hummus are in the bed.
There are crumbs everywhere.
I’ve stayed in not because I’m ill, nor because I’m tired or trying to avoid an event or scene or person or any other one of the million digestible excuses I could readily dish out as defense for my refusal to be a cog in the wheel of this machine we call New York tonight. Quite the contrary in fact. I’m in bed because tomorrow I want to go on an adventure, and I need to be up bright and early for it.
As a young kid I’d walk down to the beach in my small California town and stare into the tide-pools, taking in the alien life forms as they’d slowly crawl over each other and disappear into dark crags and tangled messes of kelp. It seemed that each pool was itself an entire world, with its own creatures and geography and events and history, and I, as the Benevolent Observer, possessed in that brief moment of innocence and childhood a naive omniscience over that micro-universe that made me feel at once both outside it and a part of it.
It is for those ineffable moments, in which unfamiliarity and nostalgia come together in a spontaneous synchronicity…that sense of, as John Denver once sang, “coming home to a place [I’d] never been before”, that I live. It was an ardor for that fleeting feeling that drove me to the futurist city noir of Taipei and the verdant isolation of Colombian cloud forests. Those experiences, and many others in my time traveling, are now memories I’ll never forget.
I do feel, however, that I missed the point.
For a long time (and times still) I felt that it was the length, the distance, the gap in physical space from where I’d come and the destination at hand that would be directly proportional to the chances of finding that sense I described earlier once more. Maybe if I just go to the farthest reaches of the globe I’ll find “The Place” or “The Feeling”.
Only recently have a come to find that such a sentiment, which I’ll simply call “adventure”, can happen right out the door.
Let me be clear. I’m not one to say that a trip to the African Congo would not be a dream (and it surely is a dream for me). If the opportunity to travel far and wide presents itself, it should most certainly be taken.
However, I will say that it can be discouraging for those who’ve been led to believe that travel must be “far” to be fulfilling, only to find themselves stuck fantasizing about flying to the next state over, let alone across an ocean or two given their life circumstances. The solution, if incessant travel were to even be it, is far too out of reach for the average Joe.
The health of the planet is at stake. Travel by plane and car has had and continue to have tremendous impacts on our atmosphere and the lives of the organisms that rely on it. Our entire future hangs by a thread, and every small choice we can make to live more sustainable lives contributes to the health of our fragile planet.
It is with these two notions in mind that I’ve found a love for exploring the places on public transit that lie right under our noses.
You don’t need a first class fare to go on an adventure, to hear new languages, to smell new smells or explore new worlds. All you need is a bus or subway ticket. Here in New York City alone, there are 472 subway stations and thousands of bus stops, ferry routes, bike-sharing programs, and even a gondola that takes you to an island! And that’s just here in New York.
I love public transit. I love to spend my days picking a stop I’ve never encountered on a stretch of line I’ve yet to see, daydreaming with fondness of once again getting that feeling of coming home to somewhere I’ve never been before.
On this blog I hope to share my adventures in New York and beyond and encourage you to do the same.
So go buy a ticket,
pick a new place,
and get lost.
It’s good for the planet,
and it’s good for you.