I have a love-hate relationship to the subway. On one hand, it offers a constant reminder of the rich, layered communities of New York City. On the other, it offers a clear explanation for why people flee it in desperation. We descend into a hot, blustery tunnel; sit (if we’re lucky) for 25 minutes in a fluorescent tube, and then trudge upstairs and into a different world with no visual understanding of how we got there. While I often lament this disorienting method of transportation, the temptation to cut corners and get to where I’m going regularly trumps my desire to breathe the air.
Lately, I’ve been trying to walk more. It’s obvious, of course, but every time I do, I’m floored by what I find. Music blaring from cars, restaurants wafting smells, tree-lined streets, stunning buildings, decrepit ones. Just because I rocket past these neighborhoods every day doesn’t mean they aren’t thrumming in full, vivid color.
My commitment to walking more is part of a larger goal of knowing the city better, and it’s working. I make mental notes of hidden gems of all kinds (restaurants, shops, coffee houses) to return to. It’s possible to feel like an explorer in your own city, and the rewards are endless.
The decision to walk somewhere I’d ordinarily zoom to is one I never take lightly–sustenance is required. By sustenance, of course, I mean music. A city walk playlist requires some bounce that builds anticipation for your final destination. But more importantly, a city walk playlist reminds you that you don’t need a destination. The right tunes tie you to the very moment you’re in.