“I need to get out of the city.” We’ve all heard it and we’ve all said it. Every day in the greatest city in the world wears you down in a predictable way, like reaching the last stretch of a marathon and finding every step dragging the pavement. But New York City always has more runway after the first finish line.
Maybe you’ve let one too many crowded express trains pass you by. Or you’ve been tripping over the same buskers in Union Square on your way home. Or like me, maybe your subway didn’t just temporarily stall in the middle of tunnel. It stopped. And all the lights went out in the near deserted, orange-and-off-cream-seated subway car, and the conductor muffled something about power, and you wondered if your worst nightmare was actually happening.
Ask yourself, what is the opposite of the subway? Then go there.
We put up with a lot
Even with the slow build of small indignities, Americans are notorious for forfeiting vacation. In a new Glassdoor survey of over 2,200 workers, the average US employee with paid vacation has only taken about half of those days in the past year. New Yorkers have it worse. Over 50% of New Yorkers leave paid time-off on the table. We also work longer hours each week than any other city in the country, according to finance website Wallethub. An earlier 2015 report from Comptroller Scott Stringer found about the same, especially because of our commute (about six hours a week).
Not to mention that we are piled on top of one another – the East Side is New York’s most densely populated neighborhood. We put up with a lot to be here, and the right vacation can make all the difference.
Try the opposite
Memorial Day is just around the corner, and so are the dog days of summer. If you are still wondering what to do, we have a suggestion: Think hard about your daily stressors here and pick someplace that offers the opposite. Here are a few guidelines you can mull over on your morning commute:
Avoid waiting and especially crowds.
On every subway line in recent years, delays have increased. We collectively waste about 35,000 hours on average just waiting around, according to a 2017 report from the city’s Independent Budget Office. So, yes we are waiting as long as we think we are. Per the New York Post, that takes up about 1.1 years worth of time each morning. A proper opposite vacation from New York means recovering from our subway – the waiting and the people.
Ditch the notification stream.
Some days it feels like we swing through the hours without catching our breath. And no, a break is not scrolling your newsfeed. So, embrace the opposite on vacation and abandon the screen. It will be a long time before unplugging becomes cliche, since our smartphones actually are making us anxious and tired. But when you do so, maybe on a day-long hike or an afternoon lounging on the coast, you’ll be amazed at how you feel.
Find a real-life screensaver.
There is something surreal about immersing yourself in an untouched landscape. Seek out places where you can stare at an untamed, unfiltered, and uncrowded view of the world. Ask yourself, what is the opposite of the subway? Then go there. (Our cover photo is from the Alaskan Turnagain Arm Drive, arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in America. People commute along that. And no, the below is not a screensaver.)
Savor a slow hour.
No matter where you go, find a place where with no special effort, your day will seem long. Where you can look at the time after ignoring it for awhile (remember, you unplugged) and marvel at how it is still the same day.
And still you come back
The small dissatisfactions can make you forget why you call New York home. But gaining mileage in New York just makes coming back even better. The sensory overload and ambient chaos of the city has its own beauty. As Tom Wolfe put it, “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” And once you are here, you never leave for long.
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