Manhattan and Brooklyn in Pictures

I don’t feel like I’ve been here long enough to give you a true guide to the city. I’ve barely touched the surface of what’s on offer here, preferring instead to enjoy the slow life of casual exploration. Day-by-day, I cover new ground. In the mornings I write about things like The Art of Getting Lost or what Belonging means to me, and in the afternoons I explore new streets and wander down fresh avenues. I snap away at anything that catches my eye, or my heart, making sure I turn these magical moments into something a little more permanent. I take time to stop and absorb my surroundings for a few minutes before venturing on to the next neighbourhood.

Here are just a few of the pictures I’ve taken. You can find them, and a few more, on my Instagram where I’m documenting my summer in NYC.

Garden New YorkCentral ParkCentral Park lakeBuilding New YorkAtlantic Avenue - New YorkBrooklynBrooklyn viewBrooklyn BiggieBrooklyn - NYCIMG_3800new york

The Art of Getting Lost

IMG_3800.JPG

I’ve always said that the best way to discover the truth in a new place is to get lost in it. When you completely give yourself to the streets and allow your feet to take you wherever it is they want to march, you end up wandering down paths you would never have taken if you were following a map, or had decided to take the bus.

It’s a strange logic, after all the idea of getting lost connotes a negative image of disorientation and hopelessness in some people’s mind, but it’s one I cling to when I travel.

When we visited Rome, we only stumbled across the Fontana di Trevi by accident because we had decided to wander and just happened to hear the splash of the water against the stone below. We would have probably visited anyway, but when you come across such beautiful and incredible sights like this by surprise, it fills you with wonder and bliss and you feel as though you are the first one to ever set eyes on it.

Since moving to NYC for the summer, I’ve applied the same theory. The trick is to have an awareness of where exactly you want to get lost – a sort of arranged disorientation. Hopefully, it goes without saying that you have to be aware of where you are and aware of your safety and security – only choosing areas to wander down that you’ve researched beforehand, so that in the event where you truly are lost, you have the means to find civilisation (so-to-speak) again. It also pays to have a final destination in mind.

Getting lost in Brooklyn has allowed me to find some beautiful spots. When trying to find a bookstore (I knew the area I needed to go), I discovered a little cafe across the street which has now become my morning haven. I’m here right now in fact.

Manhattan actually provides the perfect space to lose yourself in. No matter where you go, or what street you wander down, there will always be someone there with you. The grid layout of the city makes it easy to find your bearings, and the landmarks act as constant beacons in the sky, guiding you to your desired final stop. When I spot the Empire State Building looming in the background, I know I’m not far from Aaron’s office.

My planned disorientation usually follows the same routine. In the morning, I wander to my favourite cafe in Brooklyn before using my compass to head in the direction that I know the subway is. I usually catch the train to lower Manhattan in the early afternoon sun and pick an avenue or village to explore. At the beginning of last week, I headed to Greenwich village where I enjoyed pizza for 3 dollars a slice and later on in the week, Noho – where I accidentally walked through a photoshoot with a very famous model and enjoyed some delicious tacos for 4 dollars.

I would never had discovered these if I’d stuck to the same path everyday, or caught the bus or subway straight to my desired end location. Going off the beaten track has allowed me to explore the city through my own eyes. And in doing so, I’m making my own impression and imprint of the city on my mind, instead of the guided one of a tour guide or subway map.

Oh, and did I mention that I’ve also been walking roughly 15k a day? Getting lost is also great for the thighs it seems. Any excuse of another doughnut…

 

 

 

Belonging

homeFor the last two years of my life, I’ve lived in Hackney with my boyfriend. The first year we lived in a one bedroom flat above a pizza shop and a scary neighbour. The second year, we moved around the corner to a beautiful basement flat with wonderful little features that hadn’t been updated in years.

Before that, we lived in Cardiff for three years during university, moving across the city every year to a new flat and different surroundings. But we both grew up in the rolling hills of the Welsh Valleys and I spent my childhood in the home my mother still lives in.

Now, we’re living in New York for the summer. We’ve only been here a week but we’ve already moved from one neighbourhood to another, and it got me thinking about where I belong and how we connect with our surroundings. What does a place have to offer us for us to feel connected? How do we define our belonging? And is it the same as where we call our home?

In the two years I lived in London, I never called myself a Londoner. Despite living and working in the city and spending numerous hours exploring its streets, I never felt connected enough to identify as one. It never felt like home despite some of my  -now- closest friends living there. Yet whenever I went back to Wales, I missed the city. I felt like a part of me was still there, but at the same time I knew I didn’t want to set up my life there. I didn’t want to stay forever.

I realised that in order to find out where I wanted to live and build a home, I needed to remove myself from everywhere I’d lived before. I needed to stop in order to discover where I felt like I needed to go. I needed to know where my soul longed for and where I felt the most comfortable.

In today’s age, we can create a home all over the world. Where you come from is less important than where you’re going and sometimes the place we feel we belong is the place we feel more ourselves. The place we feel like we’ve experienced some of life’s biggest moments, or the place we feel like we’ve grown the most.

For me, I’ve learnt that no matter where I go around the world, my home will always be where my family and friends are. I know it will always be the rolling hills of the Valleys. So long as they are there to greet me, then my heart will forever return. But as for where I belong? I guess I’m still figuring that out. I need to discover who I am, before I find out where I’m meant to be.