In between trips, the wanderlustful side of me often gets a bit antsy, in need of a “fix”, if you will. After all, I’ve said it, I’m an addict. Sometimes, I get the I’m-stuck-at-home blues. Even living in NYC, that’s bound to happen to any globetrotter from time to time.
So I like to pretend I’m on vacation, right here at home. Granted, nobody cleans my apartment twice a day and turns down my sheets at night, my little studio is smaller than almost every hotel room I stay at, and I have to go to the office instead of to museums and monuments…but still, it’s a fun exercise.
And I was reminded of that today. At 6:50 this morning I hopped on the subway and headed down to the lower east side, to a small restaurant on 2nd St and Ave B. The streets were quiet–every once in a while an early commuter would pass by, but not much else was going on–and I arrived at my destination, a hole in the wall restaurant that I’d never been to. I was there to meet and interview Guy Fieri, of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (among other shows), who was there to film the show’s first ever Manhattan location.
The interview went great–he was warm, friendly, funny, personable, and totally cool–and I had an awesome time. What struck me, and prompted this posting, was the way he was talking about NY, especially Manhattan, as a destination unlike any other. He called it (I paraphrase) “an island in more ways than one.” He talked about the mix of cultures, cuisines, and people, and the way New Yorkers appreciate and demand good food. He mentioned how very unique Manhattan is, in the context of his show and in general, and I agreed.
New York receives roughly 49 million visitors each year. About ten million of those visitors are from outside the U.S. As of April 2010, there were 23,499 active restaurants in New York City. And then there are the museums, theaters, galleries, parks, and countless cultural events that New Yorkers like me often take for granted.
With this in mind, I have made an official decision: to approach my days and nights in NY as I would when I’m traveling. Whenever I go away, there is a phrase I say over and over: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Why not do that here? When I travel, I go out alone, meet new people, and inevitably come upon some strange, funny, crazy, and memorable moments. I’d love for my life in NY to be like that.
Yes, I still do have to get up and go to work and run errands and do laundry and pay bills and buy dish detergent and toilet paper, and all those other things that I can forget about while away. But shouldn’t I try to sprinkle in a little “sightseeing” and aimless wandering as well? I’m really going to try. And if there are about 24,000 restaurants in this city, that’s at least 23,000 I haven’t yet tried.