At times the daily grind can be a heavy cross to bear. Day in, day out, the demands of work, the ups and downs of relationships, that rogue pile of dog shit threatening to ruin your morning, and your shoes, along with the rest of the hardships of life are something we all must deal with. As much as we'd like to, we can't hop on the next international flight leaving town and escape to the black sand beaches of Tahiti every time the line at Duane Reade is too long or our specific dialect of Italian (beginner) seems to be non-comprehensible to everyone we need to communicate with. It's a necessity to momentarily get away from the “pains in the neck”, the “monkeys on our back”, the “thorns in our sides”. We all have our spots to get away from it all for just a moment, however brief the moment is.
A great thing about cities is that these places are in abundance and within tangible reach. The unlocked rooftop on the 30th floor of an apartment building, the dark, back corner booth in that bar down the street, the little table by the window in that cafe by work, are places to just sit and catch our breath from life's sometimes chaotic cycle. Despite being among millions of fellow inhabitants, we feel like these temples of calm are our very own secret hiding spots, usually with little or no people, and if there are they act as little more than scenery. I can't reveal all of my favorite ones in New York City. We might choose to visit these specs of sanctuary at the same time, and as I've mentioned in previous articles, I'm not very good at sharing. Despite that being said, one of the first I found is just beyond plain sight in mid-town. It lies in the southeast corner of the main garden in Tudor City. I found it by accident wandering around on an over extended lunch break. I'd go back from time to time when I wanted everything to slow down, just for bit and take in that crumb of nature amongst the surrounding concrete jungle; to take in the freshly planted lily's and roses, the old couple on the adjacent bench, the random person nosing through a novel on their Kindle, all against the backdrop of the gigantic, red Tudor City sign perched high above. There was never too much of anything there. Noise, people, distractions, at the perfect level for a moment alone, minimal.
And when the moment had passed, I'd get up after a refreshing gathering of thoughts and walk back into mid-town to carry on, problems smaller, outlook brighter, with the pep back in my “Saturdaynight Fever” step. Over the years I found more of these corners all over the city and every time I found one it was if I uncovered free, priceless, real estate, somehow eight million other people over-looked.
These peaceful nests are in every town, in every city. They stand out to us; appealing to our individual personalities in one form or another.
Rome has given me the privilege of such a place in the short period of time I've been here. Inside the picturesque setting of Villa Borghese, back away from the picnickers, the sun-worshippers, the sound of laughter from care free students, behind the statues of foreign poets frozen in time, there is a fence warning of a modest ledge overlooking the Galleria d'Arte Moderna of Rome, stretching across a piece of pastel blue roman horizon.
I visit now, a few times a weeks since its discovery. Sometimes to take in the surroundings. Sometimes to reflect. Sometimes to plan. Usually accompanied by a book, or my camera, just in case I dare forget this parcel of paradise, should it fade from my memory. I'm sure I'm not the only one who occupies that corner on the ledge from time to time, but I pretend I am. This will not be the last place of pleasant seclusion I will find in the eternal city, but, as they say, you never forget your first.
Please tell me about one of your favorite places of serenity in New York, Rome, or any city or town. If you feel like sharing!