I live on the far eastern side of Manhattan. My walk to Central Park takes me past the frat boy sports bars of Second Avenue, through the generic shops of Third and Lexington, and into the Old New York opulence that marks the true Upper East Side. Then, just when I'm beginning to feel as though I don't belong in my Sunday uniform of boots and jeans, I see green.
Trees tower over a low wall that draws the boundaries of the park. There is a little entrance at 79th Street. That is the one I take. A paved path leads me deep into the heart of the park. Cyclists and weekend athletes race past me in. They are working harder than I am, but I am on a break I tell myself.
My path curves to the Great Lawn, and I spot Belvedere Castle across Turtle Pond. It's a strange building - impressive and incongruous. A castle in the middle of the great concrete jungle. It has been nearly a year since I stood on its battlements. I put my head down and begin the climb up wide, gentle steps.
On top of the castle the view is breathtaking. Clouds reflect in the deep blue, undisturbed water of the pond. On the sloping lawn, children play at games only they understand the rules to. Trees just beginning to change colors in the fall chill frame the scene. Unashamed of being a tourist in my own city, I snap a photo and then tuck my phone away so I can watch those around me marvel at this beauty.
Revived I walk down another set of steps and through the park. I examine the plaques on green wooded benches. I stop on a bridge leading to the Reservoir to watch the runners huff and puff, fighting against the burn of ever-cooling air. There is calm here. The mere act of walking through the park washes the rest of New York away. I feel clean and new.
The sun is setting when I finally clear the park walls. On Fifth Avenue I feel the city begin to encroach upon the peace I've found. I push past tourists eager to make their way to the Met before the museum closes.
The walk back to my apartment is quick. Keys rattle in my pocket the entire way. An hour after I decide to take my walk, I'm back in front of my computer. I'm ready to work again.