Following more of a “down day” yesterday spent visiting with a family friend in New Jersey, walking around the area and chasing squirrels at a local park, Ayo and I made it back into the big city today. It felt like a good day to discover two outdoor parks since rain wasn’t forecast. Based on friends’ recommendations and interesting reviews online, I was really excited about Central Park (specifically the toy boats on Conservatory Water, the south end carousel and Heckscher Playground) and the High Line: a one mile elevated linear park built on an old railroad track.
Truth be told, Central Park is ginormous, High Line Park is long and walks to and from the subway can be pretty exhausting… so I sadly scratched the toy boats off our list. They were too far into on the other side of Central Park. I knew I could only handle so much walking with all the added weight. I mean, if you add Ayo’s 23lbs + pregnancy’s 18lbs + my backpack’s 5 or so, I was carrying 46lbs / 21kilos on my person. That is like Easyjet’s checked baggage allowance right there…only it’s not checked luggage at all. You are wearing that luggage and walking for a good part of eight hours!
We still went to Heckscher Playground on the south end of Central Park (that is Ayo attempting to climb up the slide in the photo below). It’s a pretty fun park with tunnels, a maze-type thing and hills and indents in the ground, surrounded by rocks to climb on. After playing became dull and we had run after every squirrel and bird in our vicinity, we watched horses and buggies – clucking together to the sound of their trot and then I told Ayo I wanted to tell him a special story. The story was about this boy who told this girl he was crazy about her “on a rock like that one over there”, right here in Central Park. The boy wanted to tell the girl he wanted to move all the way to France from far far away to get to know her better. At the end, I told the sweet boy I was carrying that that boy was papa. I got an emphatic head nod when I asked the boy sucking his fingers if he understood this story.
The carousel was sadly closed until noon and we were both getting peckish, so we found some hot food and decided to eat it next to a homeless man at Starbucks. I am not sure why I was first tempted to choose a free table further back in the coffee shop. Was it because he was smelly? Because he might want some of our food? Or because he might want to talk? I don’t know. Regardless, that clearly isn’t the type of person I want to be, or model for my son. So, we plonked ourselves right next to him and chatted with him the whole time over lunch before he fell asleep (the homeless man, not Ayo). From there, we moved on towards the subway that would take us closest to High Line Park.
He fell asleep (Ayo, not the homeless man!) just after the surge of excitement that came with the train’s approach. This is why I took a seat on some hipster looking wooden bleachers on the High Line once we made it there. I took the peaceful moment in fully as I gawked at the fabulous architectural feat of this park as well as the surrounding buildings. When I was working for the urban design firm in China, this what our renderings always looked like on the screen. Only, this masterpiece was for real: a path with a garden either side in the sky, art-deco benches to sit on, a shallow horizontal mini waterfall or wooden sun loungers, a window to view the traffic below on a busy street. Beautiful.
By the time Ayo finished his mini nap and thus ripped me out of my dreamy thoughts, we had become extras on the set of a fashion documentary film for the Sundance channel. And of course, Ayo didn’t think it was a problem to race down the bleachers and make a cameo appearance behind the red-headed lady telling the producer what she was wearing and how popular she is on social media. We were on the move, folks!
We only stopped long enough to watch the diggers working on what looked like another parking lot alongside the current one that had cars parked four levels high on elevators (like this). Oh, and to collect rocks, attempt to pick the flowers, watch the boats and helicopters. We loved the view onto the Statue of Liberty (closed for business these days anyway), the incredible cappuccino along the trail (or squeezy snack pouch depending on who you ask) and the cool window onto 10th avenue (the “urban theater”) where we could safely view the city.
There are plenty more details along the way and stunning views I couldn’t capture because I was too busy running after this little guy to stop and snap. But you get the point. It was another tiring but fantastic day in our Ayomoon comprised mainly of walking (running?) around, eavesdropping on foreigners speaking so many different languages, loving this lively city and even more so, every moment of the immense blessing it is to be called this darling boy’s mama.