How do you replenish, renew, recharge your batteries? A nap? A night out? Binge reading? Watching eight seasons of your favorites guilty pleasure TV show?
I do all of those things when the time seems right, some more than others (binge reading and comfort TV are higher on the list than I really should feel comfortable admitting). And there are other things that are more specific to me: I like to walk, but specifically I like to walk in cities. I have friends who crave hiking or trips to the beach where they can commune with the works of Mother Nature. Me, I want to commune with architecture and the eccentric works of man. I love watching my fellow citizens when they’re not watching me. The bigger the city, the more complex it is, the more beauty and comedy and tragedy lurks just beneath the surface, waiting for an observer to mark it.
This past weekend I had an opportunity to go back to my home town, New York City, for a little less than 48 hours. (Long story. Abridged version: it’s college tours season.) When our original plan for a trip east felt apart, I decided to use the ticket and go back home for the weekend on my own. I hadn’t been in several years.
I’m always a little afraid that I’ll go back to New York and find myself overwhelmed or intimidated. I am pleased to report that that hasn’t happened yet: I got out of the subway and was simply home. And what did I do with this stolen 48 hours? In fact. not much. Talked until way too late with the dear friend who put me up. Got acquainted with Sophie, her hamster (a truly sociable and charming little animal). Went out the next morning, venturing from Brooklyn to Manhattan; met friends in a neighborhood I don’t know very well (always fascinating), and had a splendid lunch. Walked through Central Park, then went downtown and had tea and pastries with more friends (including Laura Anne Gilman). Walked around some more, as the day got colder and darker. Eventually, sometime after nightfall, I went back to my friend’s in Brooklyn and we hung out and gabbed more.
When I left the next afternoon the sun was shining in one of those perfect cold autumn days with sky an intense robins’ egg blue. I cannot begin to say how much I miss autumn; here in the Bay Area there are small pockets of Fall, but you have to seek them out. Back on the subway, then onto the train to the airport, then off in a big tin can with wings, and home again.
For the paucity of razzle dazzle I crammed in to the trip, perhaps spending nearly 12 hours round trip on a plane may seem like a waste. And I certainly got home a little time-lagged and very tired. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t refreshed. For me, sometimes the greatest refreshment comes, not from having big adventures, but from having a whole bunch of small ones.
So what’s a big refreshment for you?