The whole time I’ve been in New York, I’ve been thinking about what my bud Greg noted about the city - that, to an Angeleno, it’s shocking simply how many people there are on the streets. They’re everywhere! Pick any main street and it’s buzzing. Maybe it’s a reflection of population density, maybe it’s that pedestrianism is more necessary or more encouraged. Whatever the case, with the masses pouring over the city sidewalks like they do, the place feels infinitely more vibrant, immediate and relevant. I can’t help but thinking, over and over, that this is the center of the world.
And while walking is the municipal pastime, I’m so glad I’m here on a bike. Riding around with my CouchSurfing friend Russ, I’ve seen so much more of the city than two legs could feed me, and I’ve digested the geography of it all in a way that walking doesn’t deliver. When I cover it all on two wheels, I can patch the neighborhoods together, get a sense of how this part of Brooklyn reaches over to that part of Manhattan, where the bridges are and whither the avenues run. I think about how much different it is than hopping from place to place on the subway. That way, you’re kind of poking your head out of the underground in different tourist hotspots, peeking around, and going back below ground to crawl to the next locus. In my head at least, that kind of sightseeing gives me a very jumbled sense of the place - none of my mental maps line up. They float around like puzzle pieces with shapes incompatible. Being on bike glues it all together.
The greatest part is that this is just the beginning. Give me another month and this mental map of mine will be a solid string of mental images, 1200 miles long, across a few states. I’ll have my very own road map, and the places and spaces along the way will fill it in quite richly. It’s something to really look forward to.