Thursday, September 3, 2009

ny love story

This is going to be my first recipe-free post, so if you're game get ready -- I'm gonna share a secret with you: I'm a member of a very exclusive club. It's one of the city's finest and requires a lot of determination for membership. Dues are paid with early winter mornings, steamy summer afternoons and chilly evenings, and the benefits get better year after year. There are well over 300,000 of us in the city and though our personal achievements vary, we all share the same method of reaching our goals; by putting one foot in front of the other.

Got me pegged? I'm a New York City runner, and have been since I landed on the island about 5 years ago. Through marathon training (twice) and fitness running in between, it's been about the only stable thing in my otherwise crowded Manhattan life. Between 5 apartments in as many years (yes- five; no- I have no idea how that happened), 4 different jobs at 2 separate companies, 4 roommates, 2 serious boyfriends, countless dates and lots of new friends, running has been my constant comfort and escape from what I think has been a pretty fabulous (read: crazy stressful) NY existence.

But the real draw to membership in this club is unlimited access to Manhattan runners secret love affair: Central Park. I've mentioned the Park in previous posts, but it is truly the #1 thing that I love most about life in the city. I'm lucky enough to live half a block from it and it's the reason I'll be an uptown girl as long as I'm here. I love life downtown -- the East Village is great for nights out, the West Village is my go-to for amazing eats -- but there's no way I could live more than jogging distance from the beloved Park (I'm just not into long-distance relationships).

When you're sitting down to your morning coffee tomorrow, Izzy and I will be stepping out of the air conditioned Pensacola airport into thick Gulf Coast air to start my last bit of summer vacation (woooo 6am flight!). If being in my kitchen is where I'm the happiest, Gulf Shores Alabama is a very close second. It's where I spent childhood summers with charming Southern grandparents and endless white sandy beaches, and it's my favorite getaway destination. I'll never trade the feeling I get driving with the windows down, country music blaring, hair curling in the humidity from the airport to our beach house, but I've found my New York comparison -- how my breathing deepens, my shoulders relax, and my mouth curls to an involuntary smile the minute I step into the Park.

I'd bet money that most Manhattan runners feel the same way. There's something enchanting for us city-dwellers about getting lost in the greenery and finding our way with a skyscraper compass in the distance. I think that in a city of fast-walkers, fast-talkers, 4-inch stilettos and strong cocktails, the Park reminds us of that despite it all, we're the same. We all love throwing frisbees, feeling the grass of the Great Lawn between our toes, breathing (mentally) cleaner air, and sharing picnics and sunsets with friends and lovers.

And, hundreds of thousands of us love feeling rubber soles hit the ground as we fly over familiar pavement, share the same views, the same road, and the same simple movement.

So that's it, my secret club that allows a daily indulgence of happiness in Central Park (and helps clear my conscience after the occasional cookie-dough dinner).

Now that I've confessed my NYC love, happy Labor Day weekend! I'll be back in a week with treats and stories from south of the Mason-Dixon line.

P.S. To stay true to the theme of this blog, I did actually bake tonight - but nothing new. I got such great feedback from my last post that I baked a fresh batch (instead of packing like I should have) to surprise my Dad with at the beach. Note: after using both light and dark brown sugar in different batches for that recipe, I think dark produces prettier cookies!

P.P.S. That's me on the right, with the long blue sleeves, at around mile 24.5 of the NYC marathon.

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