On Sunday, I went to three cafes and spent time in three towns. In the morning, after singing at church, I picked up breakfast at a cafe before driving to Weequahic Park where I walked around a lake. Later, on my way to play the organ (at another local church), I sipped a decaf latte on the bench of a cafe facing Independence Park, around the corner from my house.
That evening, my husband and I were ready for another outing, so we drove to Belleville, adjacent to Newark, and ate dinner at Topaz Thai. I was happy to discover there was a Thai restaurant within a 20-minute drive from where we live. I’ve missed eating Thai, Indian and Ethiopian food regularly since moving here from Brooklyn close to three years ago. In my neighborhood in the Ironbound, Portuguese, Brazilian and Italian food predominate. I’m still exploring all of the nearby towns and discovering what cuisines they have to offer.
After dinner, we drove a few minutes down the road into Lyndhurst and enjoyed a bavarian cream lobster tail and pignoli cookies from an Italian bakery. Then my husband realized we were practically in Rutherford, which was home to William Carlos Williams, so we looked up his house and checked it out.
I started a notebook the other day to keep track of some of these outings. It actually has three sections, “Music” (where I record the pieces I’ve practiced on the organ), “Outings” (for hikes, new towns, new places), and “Special Projects” (various priorities). I process and remember things better by writing them down, so this helps me remember that we hiked in the Palisades two weeks ago, or practiced a Bach prelude and fugue that I want to revisit soon. I don’t write everything down–but I like writing down what’s important to me. The act of writing it affirms that it’s important.
I’m grateful that I live in a city that has such easy access to many different types of places. I also feel grateful for having honored my desire for a little excitement. Maybe it wasn’t a trip to Europe–but even a little outing, devouring Thai food, bavarian cream pastry, and seeing W.C. Williams’ house, in three new-to-me towns, temporarily satiates my yearning for excitement and adventure.
I suppose it’s adventure on a modest scale, with a lowercase “a,” quite different from ones I’ve taken in the past such as circling around Sicily for a week, or living in Paris for a year. Yet when those capital-A Adventures on a grand scale aren’t possible, modest adventures go a long way.
Yesterday was quieter. I cooked breakfast, did some cleaning, worked out at the gym, went to the hardware store, played the organ for a bit, gardened, had two client calls, and talked with family. A quiet, productive day–and for today, it felt just right.
It always feels wonderful coming home after being out, and conversely, going out after staying at home for awhile. Something about the varied pace feels important. I need stability, and I need excitement. When my schedule doesn’t allow for more, simply walking around a lake or trying out a new restaurant really does provide that sense of newness and discovery. My need for fun and adventure can be honored by seeking out simple pleasures.
Which needs and values are you honoring? Which ones are getting stepped on or overlooked? Small tweaks to our routines can make a big difference. A small step can often have a huge imapct.