Monday, June 20, 2011

Day Thirty Eight: Unfamiliar ground

I used to be fearless

There's a lot in that statement that isn't really quite true, but that is how I remember it.

"Fearless" in a twenty two year old looks a lot like "stupidity" in those of us sailing rapidly toward our wiser years.

Despite the misery of my year in New York, I did a lot of exploring. I have great photographs from that time because I went places in the city that were slightly unsavory. Hey, I lived and worked in places that were slightly unsavory! And my old lovely analog Nikon F went with me most everywhere, even as heavy and unwieldy as it was. I fancied myself tough for riding the subway at odd hours. I took boxing lessons for cheap at a sketchy gym and taught writing to grade schoolers in a notoriously dangerous housing project. Was fearless. Or stupid. Either way, I lived to tell the tale.

This morning, I ran across the Williamsburg bridge then ran back. I went looking for another good running spot but everywhere I went, everything looked dangerous, dark, drippy, barbed-wired. So I wove around pedestrian-clogged streets and gave up after 45 minutes.

The concierge at my hotel told me when I got back that I was just three blocks from a fantastic running trail along the East River. He gave me a funny look when I told him the route had looked a little rough. "it isn't rough. It is really popular with folks on bikes and runners."

Apparently I'm not tough anymore. This realization has made me feel kind of like one of the folks my husband and I secretly snicker at as they drive through our own urban neighborhood on their way to the zoo, locking their doors against the fear of tangling with the wrong sort of folks.

I'm those folks in someone else's neighborhood. It is a classic response to the unknown, a (long awaited) touch of self-preservation but I'm still bothered when I see it in myself.

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