A Last Minute Adventure
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
When was the last time you did something unplanned? Have you ever gone somewhere and explored with no schedule and no plan of what you need to do or see? The unknown and not having a plan can make you feel off-kilter, apprehensive, or filled with anxiety.
It can also be freeing. How great to not have a game-plan and just meander through a neighborhood, stumbling upon a park, a great coffee shop, or a bookstore. Passing strangers walking their dog and smiling at them. Striking up a conversation with a random person while waiting in line. Experiencing and being in the moment.
I decided to take a last-minute trip to NY for a long, holiday weekend. Aside from spending time with my mom, I was also able to see my sister who was visiting my mom for the week. My sister and I got to see a Broadway show and have some scrumptious NY deli. Who doesn’t love an oversized, hot pastrami sandwich, some half sour pickles, and some coleslaw?
While riding on the subway’s F train on the way back to my mom’s late Saturday night and looking at all the upcoming subway stops, I notice Roosevelt Island on the list of upcoming stops and comment to my sister that I have never been there. Neither has she. The name conjures up the red and white tram which I would see whenever driving to and from Manhattan on the Queensboro – or 59th street – Bridge (renamed the Ed Koch Bridge in 2010).
I grew up in Queens. I took the subway to and from Manhattan every day throughout my four years of high school. I worked in the city for years, riding the subway during rush-hour. I lived in NY until my early 30’s - except for one year when I lived in Israel - and I have never been to Roosevelt Island.
Every time I go to NY, I take a day or two and explore different parts of the city. I love walking the streets of New York, getting a sense of different neighborhoods and their unique vibes. Sometimes, walking down particular streets will prompt different memories of my past. A walk through Central Park and passing the zoo and I remember going there with my parents and cousins as a young child; strolling through the East Village will conjure up memories taking a mental health day (i.e. skipping school) in high school with some friends and hanging out at Washington Square Park; walking down 47th street and I go back in time when as a young child, mom taking my siblings and me to visit my dad at work; passing Union Square reminds me of getting off work early on summer Fridays and perusing the farmer’s market before heading home. Sometimes, I walk from the East Village to Midtown. Or from Midtown to the Upper West Side. Or go Downtown and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Or go uptown and hit up some museums. I love people watching, seeing landmarks, taking in the sights and sounds, and the hustle and bustle of the city.
This trip was no different. I knew I would go into the city and walk around a neighborhood or two, stop for coffee somewhere, peruse some shops, grab some lunch, and just walk for miles exploring. Off I went. I headed to the subway station to make my way into the city. Maybe I would go to the Lower East Side and start there. I got on the F train. I looked up at the stops. Then it hit me. Roosevelt Island.
Why not go there? Time to explore something new and different. And that is exactly what I did. I got off the train, looked up a map of the Island. It is only about two miles long, so I could walk the entire Island. 4 miles to walk the whole thing. Totally doable.
I read up on the history of the Island. Since I knew absolutely nothing about the Island, I learned some new things. The island was purchased by a Dutch governor in the 1600’s from the Canarsie Indians, and then by an Englishman, Captain John Manning, after the Dutch surrendered to the English. It was named Blackwell Island for Manning’s son-in-law who inherited it. The island mostly housed hospitals – for smallpox, an asylum, a hospital for prisoners and the poor. In 1921, it was renamed Welfare Island and in 1973, Roosevelt Island.
It was a cool, slightly overcast day and I enjoyed walking around and seeing new sights. There are a few apartment buildings – mostly rentals, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a school, the Cornell Tech Campus which opened in 2017, and a few eateries. And amazing views of the East Side of Manhattan! I spent a few hours meandering around the island.
This day of unplanned activity was a good reminder to be spontaneous, be curious, be open to new experiences, and live in the moment. It made me think of how I can incorporate more spontaneity into my everyday life.
It doesn’t mean hopping on a plane to Mexico tomorrow (though that does sound like a good idea!). It can be something as simple as driving a new route to work or shopping for groceries at a different store or striking up conversations with people while waiting in line or reaching out to a friend and letting them know I am thinking about them. These little actions can help bring more joy and satisfaction into my – and your – daily life.