I must confess; I’m in love with Brooklyn.
There is something enchanting about Brooklyn evenings that few other neighborhoods in New York City possess.
My bias is not with out an excuse; I’ve lived in the same neighborhood in south Brooklyn ever since I moved to New York from Athens five years ago. Except for a brief stint living in Manhattan in the East Village and the Lower East Side (which I still love), most of my time has been spent south of Prospect Park.
I owe my love of this part of city to my original host and friend from college who introduced me to this multi- ethnic, multi cultural and multi layered microcosm few (thank goodness) still know about.
Simply put it’s a gem.
Nestled in between Prospect Park and the Greenwood Cemetery, this still unspoiled part of Brooklyn is a place where you can say hello to the corner bodega owner, chat with your neighbor while they walk their dog, and see familiar faces walking around the streets on a lazy, Sunday afternoon. I wave to the store owners catching a glimpse of the action in the street every morning when I go to work, but I never think of taking the time to truly explore further.
From what many locals tell me, the neighborhood hasn’t changed that much over the years. Originally an Italian immigrant neighborhood, it is now peppered with a spectrum of nationalities, languages, cultures and religions. A true cultural crossroads. But I needed to know more.
Summer nights are a perfect excuse for a long walk.
One evening after an event in the Greenwood cemetery I took this rare opportunity to take the long way home.
As the sunset burst into a beautiful tapestry of colors; shades of pink, salmon, purple and yellow adorned the early evening sky. The aroma of evening primrose and soft wet soil wafted through the air… I was transported. For a moment I was lifted away from the worries of my New York life and felt like I was walking through the streets of my old neighborhood in Athens. I instantly felt carefree; but the real treat didn’t arrive until the sun set; revealing thousands upon thousands of fireflies signaling to each other in their own mystical code.
I closed my eyes took a deep breath and floated with the sounds of stories being told of the families living in these neighborhoods, of meals shared, travels taken and lives changed forever. This was the first time in my years living in New York that I was absolutely in tune with my surroundings.
Living in such a high strung city, we are used to boxing ourselves in. We end up shielding our bodies and minds from the cacophony of noises, lights, tall buildings, strong aromas; all of which accost our senses in invasive ways. We choose to be numb to the big stuff and forget to take a moment to really observe the more subtle aspects of this city. During my walk through my neighborhood, all of that outer noise instantly vanished, and I was able to just enjoy the long walk home.