My father used to say, “Don’t tell people to go to Hell. Tell them to go to Brooklyn.” He and my mother frequently told me how dangerous things were in New York. If you weren’t careful, people, places, and things all held the potential to rain terrible consequences on you. Any risk was too much. Avoidance and staying at home were preferable.
As you might imagine, I was miserable. Any time I thought of doing something on my own, all I could think about was getting hurt. The world was big and scary. With my return to New York this past fall, I have begun to shake off the fears of exploring in and around New York City.
Since I have been home, I have gone into Manhattan and taken the subway enough times to feel comfortable. With and without my husband, I have learned about areas and neighborhoods that I never explored in the past. My bus trip to the New York State World’s Fair Pavilion in April let me see new neighborhoods, meet new people, revisit a park that I had forgotten existed, learned geography in relationship to my home, and helped me start getting over my fear of New York City boroughs.
Today I drove via the Cross Bronx Expressway (CBE) to meet friends at the Crosstown Diner on Bruckner Boulevard for a quick brunch (yum!). Then I drove up the CBE to the Sprain Brook Expressway (SBE) to a Citizens Bank in Yonkers to close out a security deposit account for a former tenant. As I drove on the CBE, I saw parks with children playing and signs for the Bronx Zoo, a place I have never gone.
On my home way, I got on the SBE and saw two deer grazing by the onramp. The drive to the gym, which is generally in the direction of my home, was fast and easy. The best part of today’s drive was the bright, sunny weather, the warm winds, and the greenery.
Driving through new locations, seeing new topography and wildlife, and expanding my territory all drive me to explore new places. I feel invigorated and satisfied, even though I spent a large part of my day driving. Generally, I feel more confident exploring new places in the daytime by car because it seems safer for me than going by myself or exploring at night.
In the end, whether it’s by car or not, my exploring helps build my confidence to make decisions that involve an element of risk. Doing so on any day is a plus.