Saturday, August 30, 2014

Not-so-obvious lessons I’ve learned about relationships from my past relationships

Some days I’m not sure I am learning anything, because I make the same damn mistakes over and over. Other days, I think maybe I have, even if the lessons are basic stuff. Like: Don’t date someone in the middle of a divorce. Did I really need to learn that the hard way?

These are the less obvious things I’ve learned. They may not apply to people dating for the first time - we all had to learn to be good kissers - but they do apply to both men and women. Except maybe #3.

  1. Your relationship(s) will not look like the models you grew up on. Whether it was Disney or your parents’ relationship or When Harry Met Sally, don’t try to reproduce it. You aren’t them (and, face it, none of us are Disney princesses), and times change, and stories always sound better after the fact.
  2. Most people are living the life they want. Unless they’re involved in actively trying to change it, don’t assume they ever will. Think hard about whether you can really share that life.
  3. Never date a man who calls you “pretty.” If they don’t think you’re “beautiful,” they think they’re settling.
  4. If the sexytimes are boring now, they’re not going to get better.
  5. Don’t date anyone with active mental health issues. I’m not saying you should never date someone who struggles with, say, depression. But if they’re in the middle of a very active battle with it, they aren’t in a good position to be starting a new relationship.
  6. If they aren’t willing to tell their parents about you, run like hell. (Exceptions can be made if they had an insane childhood and have cut off all contact with their parents. I haven’t experienced that one, but I imagine it comes with other challenges.)
  7. If you think you can do better, go out there and try. You’ll either find your inflated ego being knocked back down to a more realistic size, or you’ll discover that you have been selling yourself short all along.
  8. There is no value to nurturing a long-term crush. Either make your move or move on.
  9. If someone truly loves you, they’ll find a way to tell you. It may not be with those words, but they’ll make it clear.
  10. There are certain events in your life your partner has an obligation to be there for, such as funerals, illnesses, and getting out of prison. If they aren't there for you in those times, you're better off without them, because you are already doing the hard stuff without them.

Walking to the Bronx

Metro-North bridgeI had walked the bridges that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens, and Fort Lee, and between Queens and Brooklyn, but I hadn't realized until recently you could walk from the island of Manhattan to the Bronx via the Henry Hudson Bridge.

I started from the northern side of Inwood Park, meaning I had to wind around to end up where the entrance to the bridge is. The bridge itself isn't inspiring to walk on, as the pedestrian walkway is on the lower level. However, it is on the western side, so there are expansive views of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers. During my crossing, the Metro-North bridge below me pivoted open to allow a local cruise ship through.

Rather than turning back, I decided to explore the area and then walk east to the 1 train. The neighborhood under the bridge has a small park, some actual single-family homes, and a Metro-North station. The riverfront here is taken up with railroad track; that plus the bridge makes for a slightly noisy neighborhood, but the houses feel surprisingly tranquil (and are even more surprisingly affordable. I mean, relatively. For New York.).

From there, I realized, I could walk back to Manhattan another way, by walking to Marble Hill. Geographically it's part of the Bronx, but jurisdictionally it's part of Manhattan, because it used to be part of it geographically. (Perfectly clear?) From Marble Hill the Broadway Bridge crosses over to the island of Manhattan, and I didn't realize it was a pedestrian bridge as well. It's actually a much easier way to cross over - except that technically both ends are in Manhattan!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Grant's Tomb-Greenbrook Sanctuary hike

ViewingOn Sunday, I led my first hike with the Ramblers. It was an urban/not urban hike, starting near Grant's Tomb and turning around on the Long Path.

The hike up the west side of Manhattan was unremarkable; we elected to stay high and reached the George Washington Bridge rather quickly. We crossed the bridge and walked into Fort Lee to have brunch at the Original Pancake House, and then headed up the Long Path. We made it to where a small road comes in, connecting Greenbrook Sanctuary to Lost Book Preserve, before turning around. On the way back, we left the Long Path at the Dyckman Hill Trail and followed the shore for a bit. The water was peaceful after listening to traffic all day. Then we headed back up the Carpenter's Trail - a steep 300-foot climb - and back over the bridge to the train.

The weather was decent, although a tiny bit of haze made views not quite as crisp as they could have been, but it made for a good hike. The full hike was 21 miles.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Delaware River, Lenape, and Minisink hike

Tri-state monumentBack to New York City area hiking - not quite as spectacular as what Colorado has to offer, alas. This hike with the New York Ramblers was a ten-mile jaunt near Port Jervis, a town in New York but bordering New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

This photo was taken at the Tri-State monument, which we encountered near the beginning of the hike. To get there, you have to walk through an impressively large cemetery. From the monument, you can see New York in the foreground, New Jersey on the left, and Pennsylvania on the right.

Technically, this first part of the hike was on the Delaware River Heritage Trail, although it primarily makes use of streets in this area rather than feeling like a trail. From there, we walked to the Lenape and Minisink trails. The Lenape, blazed white, follows a ridgetop; the Minisink, blazed red, has more ups and downs. Both offer a few viewpoints into valleys below.

Now those of you who have hiked with me know that I do not like bees. I am not allergic, nor have I had an Incident, nor do I even get stung often - but bees seek to be particularly attracted to me. They will surround me and ignore my companions, which is quite unnerving. I also don't like hornets, wasps, or yellowjackets, although that is more rational. (If you've ever been chased by angry, aggressive hornets, you understand.)

So when we were about to start the loop, and I realized we were stepping through a particularly buzzy area, anxiety kicked in. But by that point going back was as bad as going forward, so forward I went. Two of my companions were stung, although I was not. However, I realized that we were going to come back this way at the end of the hike, so I had several miles in which to nurse said anxiety. What species were they? Would I recognize the spot when we came to it? Would I be eternally embarrassed if I detoured a mile around it through the undergrowth?

In the end, I did not recognize the spot and did manage to get stung, which while unpleasant was not nearly as bad as worrying about it. Several other hikers got it the second time around, too. My surmise is that these were yellowjackets - they seemed to be flying low and thus probably ground nesters, and a fellow hiker who got a better look said they were black and white.

That was probably the most exciting part of the hike, unfortunately. Otherwise it was pleasant enough. The hike itself was not strenuous, with less than 900 feet of elevation gain. The humid weather presented its own challenges, but you can't blame the trail for that.