When the novelty wears off, turn a corner

I remember reading somewhere that the reason why adults like to travel is because it is one of the few actions we can take that brings with it a feeling of novelty. As children, many things are new and exciting, but as we grow up, often we become jaded to the very things that once filled us with anticipation. A perfect example for me is the restaurant and game room Chuck-E-Cheese. When I was a kid, Chuck-E-Cheese was somewhere I pretty much always wanted to go. It had games, prizes, and pizza, and those were three of the most fun things to me. But as I got older, I began to see Chuck-E-Cheese as dreary. It reminded me of strip malls and cheap prizes. The novelty eventually wore off.

Travel, however, continues to be a novelty. As a kid, I looked forward to vacations from the moment I found out one was coming. As an adult, I don’t quite hit this level – there is too much planning that I have to do – but when I’m on vacation, I feel a rush that comes from seeing a place for the first time, from being free from usual obligations, and from being in a situation where everything is a bit unexpected. Unlike being a kid, there are few other opportunities for me as an adult to feel like this.

The opposite happens in the places we live. Even if that place is interesting like New York City is, I still have a routine here, and that becomes run-of-the-mill. Plus, the inconveniences stand out much more at home than when we’re traveling – the traffic, the train delays, the people on the street who don’t walk on the right side, the weather.

So it is always welcome when I happen to see a different side of New York City than the one I experience every day. Last weekend, I was coming off of a bus from Washington, D.C., near Soho. I headed east down Grand Street, toward the Canal Street station.  

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As I walked down the street, I saw a large, ground-floor, corner window with two vases with flowers along the sill and what looked like a framed academic degree hanging on an otherwise white, bare-wall. 

I was so struck by the scene that I took out my iPhone and snapped a photo. When I looked at the photo, I noticed the reflection of a building across the street and two one-way street signs, pointing in different directions. 

It was one of my favorite photos I have taken, and I didn’t have to go very far to get it.