Most New Yorkers would agree: It’s tough — impossible, even — to travel a half a mile without bumping into other human beings. Sometimes, it makes me feel like this.
But in general, I’m a realist.
I never expect my mornings to be alone. During the mile-long journey from my apartment to Central Park, I inevitably bump into hundreds of people (sometimes literally) commuting to and from the office. In the park, I’m met with dozens of mornings runners and cyclists, much like myself, each soaking in the fresh air and the presence of fellow athletes. And of course, on the way home, the crowds on 5th Avenue thicken as the morning wears on, making it difficult to take even a single step without nearly knocking a pedestrian on their behind.
There are people practically everywhere in this heavily populated city. And yet it is this fact that makes those rare moments of total silence — of total aloneness — so incredibly magical.
On Monday morning, after tossing and turning from 5am on due to a strange and awkward dream in which celebrity chef Bobby Flay tried to kill me, I awoke to sunny, non-violent skies. Almost immediately, I knew I wanted to run — if only to shake off the strangeness of my slumber.
While I was certain of my desire to get outside, I was less sure of where I actually wanted to go. For whatever reason (maybe because I had just run there on Sunday morning?) I wasn’t exactly feeling Central Park. This New York City hallmark is at the core of nearly every weekday morning, and so, for whatever reason, I was sorely in need of a change.
Dressed for below-freezing temperatures…
…I stepped out of my apartment with a willingness to let my body do the talking.
First stop, Madison Square Park. As I ran in a southwestern direction…
…it became clear that I was craving a solid 5 miler, and so I continued west to check out, for the first time in a long, long time, The High Line.
The Meatpacking District at sunrise is absolutely sublime — a complete transformation from the rowdy, house-music pumping ruckus that likely overwhelmed the west side neighborhood only hours before (yes, even on a Sunday).
During my short time out there, I embraced the character of my surroundings, noting the funky graffiti-coated brick facades — something absent from the scenery that spans my apartment to the prim pathways of Central Park.
After getting shut out of The High Line on my first try (apparently the public space doesn’t open until 7:30 — who knew!) I wandered the streets until the gates were unlocked. Once up there on the old subway tracks, I felt as though I were on top of the world. No, it was better than that. I was on top of my world — quiet, secluded and utterly serene.
Unlike the congested streets below, up on The High Line, I was able to concentrate solely on the rhythm of my stride, shutting out society below and, consequently, speeding up the movement of my legs. I could hear my feet pattering on the path; I could feel my lungs expanding and deflating. So this is what it’s like to be alive.
As the sun rose higher, at times practically blinding me for moments at a time…
…I found refuge in the scattered shaded areas that offered protection from the morning glare.
But as always, certain views were simply too beautiful — too quintessentially New York — to look away from. Like this.
Of course, with a mile to go until I was back home in Murray Hill, I found myself once again facing the harsh realities of Manhattan. Noise. Construction. Garbage. Herold Square in daylight.
Fortunately, that wouldn’t be the part of my morning I’d focus on throughout the rest of my day.
- Is your typical run quiet or filled with people? I tend to go back and forth, but which do you prefer?