I attended a wedding in Central Park recently. When the ceremony was nearly at its end, it began to pour. When it was over, knowing that hailing a cab in the rain is a longshot at best, I walked until I found a subway entrance and descended underground.
When I emerged onto the street in Times Square a few minutes later, five blocks from where I needed to be, the rain was still torrential. I was already pretty wet despite my umbrella, so I ran the gauntlet of drenched Elmos, Batmans, tourists, and sailors in town for Fleet Week and made my way to the reception. With time to kill before it began, I sat at a bar and regaled the bartender with what I called my quintessential New York experience.
This is part of what makes the Greater New York area my home. This you-never-know-what-can-happen feeling. In my younger days, when I was more high-strung and definitely less of a sport, this would have thrown me for a loop. This day, I ordered a Kahlua and coffee and dried myself off with paper towels.
Home feels like such an expansive concept to me. It extends far beyond my apartment a block from the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J. and reaches into Manhattan.
In the beginning of the year I took an online travel writing course and one of the points it emphasized was the amount of stories that get overlooked because they’re so close to us we don’t see them. It’s only natural that when we live in a place we might skim over what makes it interesting and fail to appreciate its appealing quirkiness or storied landmarks.
One of the things that has heightened my awareness of my sense of place is the Instagram account I opened a few months ago. I had motive – I was applying to be a writer-in-residence and one of the items called for on the application was my Instagram handle. I needed to get one pronto and jumped in.
I didn’t land the gig, but I consider the creation of the account a nice consolation prize. What it has inadvertently shown me is how enriching it is when you appreciate your home and all it has to offer. When I look at the shots I’ve taken on Instagram, I realize that most of them are about paying attention to what’s right in front of me.
For example, I use the waterfront like a backyard, so sometimes it’s easy to take for granted that not everyone gets to watch an enormous cruise ship sail by while they sit on a bench sipping coffee. Or that when I invite friends to bring their daughter to the park it’s going to come with one of the most stunning skyline views around.
But if those same friends come into my home, what they will not find is granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, two things that seem to spell the end of civilization for many of the people on HGTV’s House Hunters. I get it. They’re way cool and aesthetically pleasing. And if you spend a lot of time in your kitchen you want it the way you want it.
My sense of home is more about living in proximity to all kinds of stimulation, but also living in a way that almost everything provides stimulation. My Instagram photos range from a bunch of fresh basil in a pitcher on my table to a friend at the Rene Magritte exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art to a chopped salad and glass of wine at Mario Batali’s Otto.
A vibrant walk — Conde Nast Traveler magazine in my bag — to a restaurant with great Kona coffee. A bird with interesting white spots on its black breast sitting next to me on a bench. Art Deco-looking Empire State Building lights during the Super Bowl. Yellow tulips in a vase on my side table.
I sure love to travel, but I’ve become more and more aware of the wonder that surrounds me every single day.
By Nancy Colasurdo