If you’re like me, a lover of summer who much prefers the days of lightweight clothing and open-toed shoes to frigid temperatures and the necessary earmuffs and travel pack of Kleenex, you’re probably wincing too. How is it that summer has once again come and gone? The pools are closed and the screaming children are back at their desks. The foreign tourists have departed to their motherlands and the boxes of winter clothes we bade farewell only months ago have emerged from the depths of our closets. Goodbye to sipping melted lemon ices, hello to crunching fallen leaves beneath our feet, and in a few more months, shivering bodies and noses being burned by frostbite.
It would be unfair for me to continue, as if for summer’s stretch I was cooped up within cubicle walls under buzzing fluorescent lights and artificially cooled air that inevitably would be too cold for my thin skin. My last three months were, essentially a New York City stay-cation, where my days consisted of adventuring throughout the five boroughs in search of fun, with a work portion at my desk at home, which more often than not, took place in my pajamas.
With my final post of 92 Days of Summer just last week, I am now twisting my torso in hopes to relieve the knots in my back that keep me up at night. From stress, perhaps? I know, “What stress?” you ask, smirking at the fact that I would even dare say such a thing when for twelve weeks I have had no real responsibility other than swiping the life out of my MetroCard and jotting down some thoughts on my travels. Though it sounds like I’ve been taking a joy ride, with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, it has been work, and a commitment I made to myself that I would not default on. One activity every day, and a post, that even if I didn’t feel like writing, I had to do. Now that it’s over, I must say that this might have been the best summer I’ve ever had. When I decided to embark on this 92-day journey, some friends thought I might be biting off more than I could chew. “One activity a week is enough,” someone suggested, and “Well if you don’t post everyday, it’s fine,” another said. No way, I thought. And now knowing of Julie Powell’s 365-day endeavor, I breathe relief that I accomplished a measly 92.
As much as it feels like summer just began, it seems like forever ago that there I was hiking over to Park Avenue at 105th Street to the Central Park Conservatory Gardens on Day 1. Day 92 finished with a night visit to the Empire State Building, which I hadn’t done since my freshman year of school here in 1995. (Cough couch). In between, I finally walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, ate a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli, and ventured to Long Island City to the Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum. I was serenaded by a cute twenty-three-year-old on a gondola ride in Central Park, humored by the sights on a day at Coney Island and thrown for a loop watching my friend win five-hundred bucks at the track. I wined and dined at NY Restaurant Week, tried my hand at kayaking in the Hudson River and spent three days waiting for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park. I walked through neighborhoods I’ve only heard of, got my money’s worth out of the aforementioned MetroCard more so than I ever did commuting to work, and found things to do and places to see I’d never before had the time to look for. I struggled to find friends whose schedules allow them as much free time as mine does and ended up making most of my trips solo outings. I stood in the middle of busy sidewalks with my camera like I’d never seen such sights, and as a result bothered businessmen rushing to get by as I would block pedestrian traffic trying to capture the perfect shot. I carried my map around like any foreigner does and even succumbed to asking directions when I feared getting lost.
In a matter of ninety-two days I got to know this city better than I have in the thirteen years I’ve called it home. I found treasures I never knew about and as a result fell in love again. I may have looked like a tourist, minus the I Love NY tee and the Midwestern drawl, but felt with every step like I was home. As often as the idea of leaving comes up in conversation, it’s really difficult to imagine not being here. I probably will take off someday, when the right force pulls me elsewhere. But for now, this is my city. And I’m singin’ it!