New York State of Mind

This past Friday I took the train from Syracuse into NYC to visit a high school friend, Eden, for the second time in about 6 or 7 months. The first visit was the BEST visit to NYC (and likely still is for several reasons) to date. This time went really well too.

Traditionally I get really worn out by all the visual and auditory stimuli in NYC – the lights, the honking-horns, the street vendors, the people (and the constant sound of chatter) – but I do think that I’ve found a good way to minimize the energy-sucking nature out of all of that: community service.

Table of volunteers and staff talking for "Don't Walk By"

The first visit was very laid back and amounted to a few trips around NYC bookended with volunteering at the Bowery Mission serving food to both the men who were in the program there and also some un-housed folks.* Eden and I did that for two nights. The combination of taking the train (and not driving), a minimalist itinerary, and staying away from Time Square coupled with community service lent itself to a very relaxing trip to NYC. Prior to that trip, relaxing and NYC wouldn’t generally fit within the same sentence for me (particularly since I am not a city-girl). But now, I’ve found the right amount of sight-seeing and down-time to leave the city more energized than when I arrived.

This past visit was a good balance as well. I arrived on Friday and helped assemble some packets for the Saturday event – Don’t Walk By. We then went to her home in Queens and well, went to sleep REALLY early! Then up early on Saturday for an all-day preparing/serving for Don’t Walk By. All Angels (church) in the Upper East Side (South of Harlem) hosted and Don’t Walk By served around 60 un-housed men and women. It was a day of “wrap around” services being offered, including food, coats, toiletries, and offers of continuing services to help folks help themselves out of “homelessness”. And the genuine gratitude in the voices and on the faces of the folks receiving the services was amazing: a blanket of warmth on a very cold NYC night. Not everyone took advantages of the services, but most folks got some warmer garments for the winter and a bag of toiletries, as well as contact information for said services if they ever wanted them. All in all, it was a heart-warming and enjoyable day.

The rest of the visit was a mixture of relaxation and site-seeing – including a stop into Tiffany’s and dinner in Brooklyn at S.E.A..

So, a sure-fire way for a good NYC visit, at least for me so far, service, site-seeing, and a low-key itinerary with a good friend: oh, and don’t drive, take the train. Though, there is another story to tell about the train.

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