img_7409 At the Soda Shop on Chambers

Give me a date for a dinner party, an idea for a crochet design or a tourist in need of an itinerary and I hop right into planning mode. Even if the deadline is 6 months away, I am too excited to sit still. Now, tell me one of my seasonal jobs is ending, that I’m very sick or that I have to move, and I will put off taking action as long as possible. When a job ended, I decided to go to Florida. When I was so sick I couldn’t stand up, I thought about making a pie. Most recently, when I had to move, I avoided dealing with this reality by dabbling in candy-making, watching football and going on desultory walks. Basically, I have commitment issues when it comes to the big changes in life, which usually makes for some interesting outcomes. I’m terrible at transition, so I do everything I can to ignore its approach, but when it’s finally there, I’m shocked at what is happening because I really didn’t see it coming. It really is a bad habit of mine…

img_1075 I live in the building to the left of the firehouse (with wreath), but not just any firehouse, the one from Ghostbusters!

I knew where I was moving to for months, just to set the record straight; it was the logistics I hadn’t tended to yet, like organizing, packing, hiring movers, even choosing a day to move. It all came together in its chaotic way, thanks to some amazing parents who always know what to do with their crazy daughter. The meltdowns on my part I could have done without, but that seems to be my style.

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Six days later and I’m still getting used to my new surroundings, those of the apartment and neighborhood varieties. Brooklyn had really become part of my identity in New York, having spent 4 out of my 5 years in the city there. For someone who lives for new experiences, I get attached to routines, to getting my coffee here, seeing my favorite librarian there, to knowing every crack in the sidewalks or how the sun is going to come through the blinds and draw lines on the green bedroom wall. Of course, when I left Manhattan 4 years ago, I went through the same process of missing everything, right down to the one tile in the apartment building that made a sound when you stepped on it, which of course made me tear up the last time I walked out of there.

img_1087 The Christmas trees kicked to the curb always look so sad

I’ve been walking around Manhattan a lot since I moved, despite having a cold and it being cold, trying to familiarize myself with this borough that I know more as a destination, not place of habitation. Oddly enough, it’s an apartment I already know too in that same way, as it was home to the girls I used to nanny (is that a verb?), though they lived in Brooklyn for the first few years of that and are now in Long Island. So, I can tell you where all the treat shops, the music school, the orthodontist, and eyeglass store are, but I don’t know the non-kid stuff, i.e., the fancy schmancy restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques.

img_7408 The girls

I’m more interested in the architecture of this area than any of the above right now. Like a couple of other New York neighborhoods, (Seaport, West Village, Vinegar Hill), Tribeca beckons you to photograph it in black and white because of all the vestiges of another era. When I was flipping through the Tribeca part of my Forgotten New York book, I remembered that Tribeca is home to an old enclosed footbridge that joins the 2nd floors of two buildings. What I also remembered? I had still never seen it. I recall hearing about it elsewhere, then reading about it, then seeing pictures, but never ever stumbling upon it when I was out and about. I always thought this was peculiar, as Tribeca isn’t all that big, but I didn’t seek out the address of the footbridge either.

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Until yesterday. I skimmed the book again, took note of a street in my head and set out to find it. The street is so small that it’s not even on my tattered map that I bought my first month in New York and that I always carry with me. Well, it turns out I had the wrong street anyway, but I explored a part of Tribeca I had never been to at all before, probably because it’s separated from the rest by Holland Tunnel craziness. I was a little sad that I still failed at finding the footbridge though, as it has been one of those New York fixtures I’ve been meaning to see for over 5 years now, to no avail. Today, I looked at the book again, realized my skimming mistake and made a mental note of the correct street. I departed, excited at the prospect of finally seeing it, but ambivalent too because it would finally put an end to my architectural quest. Just as I have yet to master getting around the West Village or remember which of the four Grand Army 2/3 train exits to the street to take, some things seem like they just aren’t meant to be and that’s kind of okay with me–it’s all part of the magnificent wonder of this city.

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Walking there and realizing the footbridge is only a few blocks from where I now live, I asked myself how I could have missed it. Approaching, I noticed that there is no light or stop sign at the intersection of Harrison and Hudson streets, so maybe I never crossed there, and thus, never went down Harrison Street the 1/2 block to Staple Street, where it is. I sprinted across when there was a lull in traffic, but…wait a minute…I WAS here, just a few days ago when I walked to the grocery store. Down this very same stretch of Harrison Street. A few paces more, and there’s little Staple Street, more of an alley than anything. I smiled and said aloud, “There it is.”

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What was I doing when I walked down this way before? Was it too cold to look up and to the left? Was I looking at my cell phone? Was I talking to someone? Was I staring inside the spa on the opposite side? Was I glancing at the cobblestone that’s peeking through the asphalt on Harrison Street? At the end of the block is Yaffa’s Tea Room, a restaurant I had been to twice. Had I gone another way to get there?

But it doesn’t really matter, does it? I liked the fact that I walked right by it, maybe more than once, that it saw me, but I didn’t see it. I would rather meander through the streets of New York (and through life) without noticing everything the first time around, without a good sense of direction or complete map, never knowing what to expect but always excitedly awaiting what’s around the next corner.