In my six years of living in transplant-centric locations (Lawrence, Kan., and Brooklyn, N.Y.), I’ve come to cherish one of life’s more underappreciated delights: Staying put for the holidays.
Back in Lawrence, some of my favorite times included window-down drives on relatively empty summer-evening streets, enjoying the solitude of the Student Rec Center during its reduced summer hours and running the hills of the car-free streets just north of campus before the summer heat hit near mid-day. Staying in a snowpacked and silent Lawrence over winter break felt like being in on a beautiful secret that the rest of the world only stumbled upon twice a week at Allen Fieldhouse.
My corner of Brooklyn, dominated demographically by twentysomething transplants and young families with roots elsewhere, feels the same way. People leave “home” for home, leaving me with a few days of eerie calm, an oddly alien version of my usual surroundings.
• On Thanksgiving morning, I walked three whole blocks without seeing another pedestrian. I was the only person picking up a pumpkin pie at Laurentino’s Pasticceria (highly recommended by my household’s pie-eating contingent), and I didn’t need to wait in the usual mess of a line at Bagel Factory (highly recommended by my household’s bagel-eating contingent, aka ME).
• My Thursday afternoon bike jaunt was unusually devoid of murderous drivers and careless pedestrians. I was the only vehicle on some of the blocks that normally require surgical swerving around double-parked livery cabs, squeaking city buses and scooter-riding delivery men. I’m not sure whether this new, laid-back version of city cycling was necessarily more fun or more exciting, but it did provide a rare opportunity to pay attention to architecture and cityscape, instead of the masses of steel hurtling past me on all sides.
• I was the only person using the gym on Friday morning. As anyone who has had a weightroom to themselves knows, this is fantastic. My commute to work was incredible — the subway was sparsely populated and the sidewalks were half-filled. Corporate New York was asleep (aside from myself), leaving the tourists and shoppers to roam at will, and the rest of us to walk in relative solitude.
• Even on an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, Union Square and SoHo took on a leisurely, meandering feel, as New York trickled back “home” through La Guardia, Newark and John F. Kennedy.
• On Monday, my vacation from your vacation ends.