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Under wild bangs, under every rock

By December 23, 2009How To, Writing

mapAs a woman who loves to ‘off-road’ it – either walking with or running with her dogs, and as a woman that – like many 20 somethings (and early 30’s in my case) – moved around a lot (refusing to settle or settle down), I will tell you that I found myself in this particular situation several times:

  • I’d arrive in my new ‘hood and some nice local would point me in the direction of the woods, park, trail system, what have you,
  • I’d go there and find myself completely lost – totally bewildered by the forks in the paths, the trees that all looked exactly the same, the trail markers which never quite seemed to match up or make sense,
  • I’d have the feeling that this space was never going to feel familiar, that I’d always be lost;
  • and then, a few weeks later, something would click. Trees, rocks, ponds would become so familiar, their markings read like nametags. I knew exactly where I was and I felt safe, part of the space, like I belonged. I’d wonder how this easy-to-navigate simple patch of land had once seemed so confusing.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about not being able to locate myself geographically. It was in response to a lot of things figuratively, but to my experience spending time in New York City literally. I couldn’t get my bearings.

This week I was back in the City…and like those clickable times in the woods, this week was Kaching and the City. I knew north, south, east and west. I recognized streets and stores and neighborhoods. People mentioned areas or avenues and I actually knew what they were talking about. As the subway passed certain stops, I could see in my mind exactly what the streets looked like above my head, above ground.

Why all of a sudden? What was different?

  • Most notably, I was determined. Because I abhor weakness and the feeling of being lost and confused.
  • I bought a map. An adorable little fold-up thing that I unabashedly studied.
  • I laid down my crutches – which were in this case: A) cabs – expensive was one reason, but the other is that when you get into a cab, you just tell the cabbie the address and then you stop paying attention until he stops the car. B) I’ve been with friends that know the City like college students know their social security numbers – and with friends like that leading the way, who needs to have a clue about direction?
  • Time and practice, of course. If you do something enough, you start to get the hang of it. So this is really about patience and hanging in there and knowing that even the most confusing, scary, displaced feelings, with time, will turn into confidence, direction and sure-footed movement forward.
  • I harvested Outposts. In the midst of it all, over the course of the last 6 days, I saw 12 old, new and always good friends. They themselves were scattered around the City – inviting me to explore further, assuring me there was joy to be found under every rock.


Yesterday morning, I went for a run around the slushy streets of Brooklyn and through one of its small parks. This green space is a dog haven in the morning. I love the dogs of NYC, they’re so muttrified, they look poignantly like the rest of the City. As I crested the hill in Fort Greene by the monument, a particularly mutty, clumsy puppy came barreling towards me. He had little control over his fast growing legs and it didn’t look like he could see at all. His floppy hair hung in a mess over his face.

I leapt to the right avoiding his intended collision, but managed to reach a hand out and pat his little head, catching a glimpse of wildly hyper eyes under those heavy bangs. He slid past me happily thudding into a bank of snow. And I just kept going, moving forward with my steady stride, out of the park, heading east to my next destination.

Image credit: raybdbomb

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