With begrudging excitement I zipped through traffic on the 405. Shifting up and down the gears as I defragged the freeway, playing a game I call threading the needle. A final zip into the parking garage before the parking break and clip clop of fluevogs on pavement. I left my race driver persona along with my keys with the attendant.
I'm embarking on an adventure I have been calling Urban Camping.
Let me explain. While staying with some friends in San Francisco I was looking for some easy exercise. Rosie suggested I do some urban hiking, which was basically going on a hike in the city. My destination was Mt Davidson - the highest point in San Francisco - and I did some serious hill climbing to get up there. I decided to take the concept farther with my next New York trip.
New York is a weird place for an Angelino like me. I've traveled through the City often enough. I've had more than one SO hailing from the place. But I always thought of myself as from the wild west, riding my iron horse, big sky mountain range Mojave vistas. I turned my nose up to the Big City. It could offer me nothing my Queen of Angels couldn't provide in bounty. Besides, I wasn't convinced New York was a modern city. It was an old piece of machinery, well greased, but built and representing an old paradigm.
Ok, so I had some baggage.
And when I find baggage, I proceed to unpack it, assimilate it and/or throw it out. What better time to challenge my assumptions?
In my mind, I'm packing for the desert. I've got my camping gear, my hiking gear, warm weather clothes, serious footwear, my morning coffee ritual needing only boiling water, which for urban camping is an electric teakettle. My mind is open, I'm leaving judgements behind, the space for possibilities exists. Unknown possibilities. Wildcards in my mind.
Midnight arrival. I immediately feel the press of humanity. Discombobulated. Setting up camp at 1am is never much fun, especially if you haven't been to the campsite before. Fitful night of sleep. No coyote calls. No stars at night, but the lights are bright and brilliant far into the sky. Morning coffee calms, complete with my Vietnamese Cinnamon. I meditate on clothing selections for the upcoming hike: Times Square via Subway from Brooklyn.
I hesitate for a moment, take a breath, charge my metro card, then jump. There will be only a short time of new, fumbling, discovering. Eventually we will know each other. I ask the Queen of Angels to forgive my absence. I have never loved a city like I love her. But we haven't seen much of each other recently. New York calls, as does London, Brussels, San Francisco. Cities of past adventures, returning to the spotlight. What can I do but acquiesce? Explore possibilities. Cultivate curiousity.
I ride the subway. I walk. I take elevators. Everywhere people. I look at the view. I study maps. I start to understand the land, coated with humanity, our efforts. I watch balloons rise in the towers of air, between towers of steel and glass. I start to recognize. To familiarize. Things stop being new. I'm starting to unpeel the layers. To feel the pulse. To adapt. I hear the proto-words whispered, the proto-language of the city. I respond with affection, exploration, calm presence. We've got time to know each other. To enjoy the unfolding.