Ahhh. It’s good to be home.
I know NYC isn’t perfect. It’s often loud, rude, abrasive, dirty, frustrating… But it’s also beautiful. Every now and then, if you pay attention, you can smell honeysuckles in a breeze in Brooklyn. And when you least expect it, a stranger on the subway might actually do something kind. Today, as I rode the subway from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side with a perfect latte in my hands, I realized how content I was to just be on that train, around all those strangers, with a completely blank day ahead. Sometimes, despite so many big things in this city (noises, crowds, buildings, garbage piles), it is the littlest things that must be recognized so that you’re grateful to be here.
I think it’s so important to notice and appreciate life’s simple pleasures (whatever they might be for you). Maybe it’s because this is the last week and a half of calm before a three-year grad school storm descends upon me, but before things get too crazy, I am going to go ahead and acknowledge those little things that make me happy right now. That’s the only way to make them become the big things.
1. Bike rides along the Hudson River. I don’t care how long you’ve lived in New York City — if you haven’t gone for a bike ride, a stroll, a run, or some other ride (scooter? rollerblade?) up and down the West Side, you are not really living in New York City (if yaknowwaddi mean). This is one of the most serene parts of the city and, having grown up here, I appreciate it even more because I know what it used to be like. Trust me: Between the High Line, the new piers, the cleaner Hudson River and the generous bike lanes, this is one of the City’s best improvements. Biking along the water on a hot summer day is one of my happiest NYC places. You’d be surprised how zen it can be.
2. Caribbean food (and drinks) outside. Let’s be honest: Caribbean food is good all year round. But nothing is better than eating some jerk chicken (with someone you like!) outside on an 80-degree night, or sipping sangria at happy hour under a palapa on Amsterdam Avenue after a hard day’s work. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: despite Spanish/Turkish/Argentine/Polish/Lithuanian blood, I am pretty sure I have a Caribbean soul. Between the food, the music, the lifestyle and the weather, there is not a single day that I don’t crave being on a Caribbean island. Any experience that allows me to at least pretend that I am is as sweet to me as sweet plantains in my tummy.
3. Juice. Ok, so maybe this is an expensive treat, but fresh juice after walking around or working out on a summer day makes my mind, body AND soul happy. Kale, apple, cucumber, mint, coconut, beet, carrot, orange, ginger, spinach, lemon, grapefruit, berries, bananas…. Any combination of reds, greens, oranges, and yellows works for me. When I am sipping a fresh juice in the spring/summertime, nothing feels better. This is a great (and yes, expensive) trend. Juice it up out there, people. Your body will thank you later.
4. Honeysuckle breezes in Brooklyn. It happened last night. I was walking down Hoyt Street in Boerum Hill when a perfumed breeze swept me away from everything else I could see. I knew instantly that it was honeysuckle, having spent my childhood summers surrounded by honeysuckle bushes at an old beach house my family used to rent. The smell was so familiar, and yet so unexpected just off of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. I couldn’t help but feel a sudden overwhelming sense of happiness — a swirl of memories combined with an excitement for the “right now.” Within moments, I arrived at my destination and the breeze was forgotten, but here is my attempt to recapture it.
5. It’s only June. That’s right. We have the whole month, plus July, August, and even September to enjoy all these little summery things!!! That’s a lot of fresh berries, cold drinks, and open-toe shoe-time! I can’t even tell you how happy summer makes me (or maybe I just spent a blog post trying to…). Forgive me for wanting to savor the moment. It won’t be long before I am spending all my long-awaited summer days locked in a frigid cadaver lab, following through on a dream I once had of becoming a physical therapist…
Wherever you are, think about the little things that make you smile right now. I have some very happy people in my life right now, and some that are going through challenging times. Whichever one of these people you are, I guarantee that a honeysuckle breeze can come at any moment, you just have to be willing to notice it.
Feel free to share one or two of your happy “things” as a comment. In the meantime, this song also makes me happy. Yeah, it’s Beyonce, and WHAT? Hit it, girl: