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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Get Lost

I am a horrible tourist.  I don't say this lightly, but its true.  I hardly saw any of the famous sites of New York.  Skipped the Statue of Liberty, MoMA, the Empire State Building, etc...because what I like to do when I get in a city is get lost.

I mean really, really lost.  Maybe its an excuse that I tell myself, because I get lost so often but I think the best way to see a place is to stumble onto things.  My first day out alone I wandered the streets of Chinatown and Little Italy.  I sat down in one of the lovely little italian resturants eating a bowl of linguine.  The next day I got lost in the Village and in Chelsea.  Saw Gossip Girl getting filmed.  Walked through a store called Shoegasm (really?  could there be a better name for a shoe shop, I ask you???)  Went to the American Museaum of Natural History.

These aren't the sort of things tourists tend to like to do.  But I like to just walk along and soak up the energy of a place.  And I did it that way to challenge myself as well.  I think travel is all about making yourself uncomfortable, putting yourself out there and going off the well worn path.  I think by doing that, you discover something not only about the place you are at but also about yourself.  For instance, the subway scares the crap out of me and the first day I took it alone without Katie, I was scared to death.  But as the days wore on, I felt more and more comfortable to go off the main lines. One day I just got on the subway randomly and got to Chelsea and a lovely meal at a little swedish cafe. 

As I ate the cold shrimp in dill cream sauce I felt this rightness of not being a tourist in your own life, to focus solely on ensureing we hit the big marks in life. Get married. Have kids. Buy a house. Get a career. Become president or at least president of the rotary club.  Sometimes we get so focused on achieving the big big dreams that we forget the joy of simplicity, to simply allow ourselves to expierence.  Of course goals are important but sometimes I feel that we don't tailor our goals to our own desires in life but about what others expect us to want.  And from my personal expierence, that leads to unhappiness. 

One such follower of her heart is Katie...the other reason I came here. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big advocate for choas and not planning things.  However, I planned the places I visited very carefully; not based on the sites I wished to see but on the people I needed to reconnect with.  Each person I chose to visit has something to teach me.  Sometimes its about reconnecting with my past but mostly its about being with people who have a unique perpective on life; people who inspire me.

Katie is one such lady.  Katie used to live in Hawai'i and she moved out here about four years ago.  She certainly has had her ups and downs but what I love about her is that she doesn't take shit from anyone.  She knows her value in life and she won't be taken advantage of.  Now don't get me wrong, Katie still has a heart of gold BUT she has boundaries now and she enforces them.  Katie has spent the last four years working herself, her body, her attitude and her soul. And its time that has clearly paid off; I am in awe of her strength and power.  Katie walks alone along the streets of this huge city at night; unafraid and powerful.  She's like a superhero or something...

She lives in Brooklyn in a place called Bedford (which is odd because I just came from Bedford, Ohio.  What can I say, I'm a Bedford-hopper! Hahahahaha ha....he....hmmm... ahem...).  Its a kind of rough neighbourhood but she likes it there.  Katie works at a furniture store in Soho, where pretty boys get paid to stand outside the Hollister store wearing nothing but tiny swim shorts and zinc oxide on their noses.  Hilarious! People judge quickly here and they tell you what they think.  I've seen men openly veto women's exciting moment for me was when two gay boys said behind me "I LOVE that red handbag".  They were talking about my handbag!  Woot!

So, Katie and I went to see Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party.  I know we could have seen other shows but they were pricey and the title alone cracked us up.  And it was good to go.  The play was split into three acts but the audience could democratically decide which acts went in which order.  The play was about a little town in Illinios where Abraham Lincoln lived with a man for several years.  Some 160 years later, a school put on a play about it and mentioned this fact about old Abe.  Choas insues, politics enter into the fray and what you get is a pretty interesting commentary on the political situation of today.

The play was so funny but also made some good points about the politics of today in America and how divided we are.  The politics in this country scare me; everyone seems so passionate that their point there seems to be very little attempt on either side to empathise or understand each other's view points.  One point that struck with me was the concept of dancing and how if you don't at least try to agree on what way to go, then you just can't dance with that partner.  And I worry that in America, we are heading down that path.

My time here has gone by faster than I would have liked but New York is a fast paced place.  Its a place that I want to come back, for sure.  And maybe next time I'll walk the streets unafraid and confident...maybe next time I'll be a superhero, like Katie.