I got lost in the city today but it’s not like it sounds. I got lost in the woods. There were no buildings. There were no people. It was scary.
Allow me to explain. See, I walk home through Central Park a couple of days a week if it’s not hideously hot or raining or sticky-muggy. That’s why I can only do it two days a week. Sometimes there aren’t even two days in a week with walkable weather. I always take the same route, the most direct one, because I’m not really there to enjoy the scenery but rather to get some exercise in the cheapest, most expedient way possible. Actually, the most direct way is up Broadway but that takes me past Grom and Beard Papa and that sort of defeats the purpose of moving my ass in the first place. Plus there are lights I sometimes have to stop for and slow-moving people. In the park, I am the slowest person.
But today there were lots of other slow people, the people of the Chase Corporate Challenge. This is a race for people who are used to trying to get past the other guy with a Blackberry (soon to be an iPhone) and a Dell but now they are given the chance to win at all costs the old-fashioned way, with their feet and elbows. Fun! They were all penned off in their own area but I got distracted when I saw my cousin’s company all gathered on a patch of grass with a big banner and since she’s a runner I went off to see if she was there. Bad move. It pulled me off my usual route and took me into the middle, more parky area. Then I found myself in the penned-off area in the middle of lots of exhausted corporate types heading towards huge pallets of Powerade. Did I mention I never saw my cousin? I weighed asking someone else under the Acme Consultants sign if they knew her but I realized that if she did that to me, I’d punch her in the mouth. “Hey, do you work with Becca? Coolness!” Bleah.
So I meandered off on a path and that was an even bigger mistake. Suddenly I realized that the buildings beyond the trees that I use to guide me were very far beyond the trees and in fact, there was now a lake between us. How the fuck did that happen? One path led to another path and then suddenly there were no buildings. No buildings! Where’s my city? I saw a bridge but I couldn’t get to it. It was really woodsy and then came the part with no people. There was a map but it said I was in The Ramble. Ladies and gents, when you are lost, you just are not thrilled to be in a place called “The Ramble.” But at least I could kind of see where I was going. Alas, the lake is “under construction” (how is that possible?) and so there was a detour around it and the map was useless. I started to worry about someone plucking the expensive iPod out of my hand and running away through the trees. And I had just put four Simpsons episodes on it! I panicked when I saw two guys approach but then realized they were tourists with a camera that looked more expensive than my iPod. I started to think about robbing them. Then I saw another guy, fishing in the lake. I was too repulsed by the thought of fish from this lake to worry about being robbed and/or killed by him.
Ironically, this map is from a site about fishing in Central Park. Yum! Notice all the circles? Me too! And see where it simply says “Ramble?” It’s all forest and labyrinthine dirt paths. And that’s before the detour.
And then I saw them: the buildings, they were back. And then there was my route. And then I heard a a car. Hallelujah! I know lots of people are scared of New York, but quite frankly, what scares me is the country or the woods where no one can hear you scream. Just as you probably visualize NY from Law & Order (or whatever your favorite crime drama which is invariably set here may be), I visualize rural areas as “Boys Don’t Cry.” Not that Central Park is rural, but you get me.
In case my workout wasn’t strenuous enough (and ironically, my friend Maureen and I were just discussing 5k races today – hey Maureen, I’m pretty sure I walked a 5k!), about four blocks from my apartment I saw a guy selling books on the sidewalk, as the more ambitious homeless do, and they included a large number of Jewish holy books. Lying on the pavement. Ugh. So I bought them all and carried them home. There was too much for me to carry in one trip and so I had to come back, still all sweaty, for another load. On the second trip, a religiousy guy who had done nothing asked me if he could have one. Fuck you! Man, I felt holy while I was saying those words in my head. Actually, our conversation went like all frum people conversations go, “and where do you go to shul, and where did you learn?” But as you can see, the conversation in my head went more like my non-religious-Jewy interactions go.
Here is just one of the piles. In the good news column, the vendor was so impressed that he said he’d never put books like that on the ground again. In the bad news column is the fact that I don’t believe him. He’ll probably just track me down and get another $30 out of me.
So in the end, as you can see, I was robbed.
Title comes from:
The Cure – A Forest