The places I’ve gone

Yo La Tengo playing at McCarren Park Pool in August 2008, two weeks after I moved to Brooklyn.

It happened on Friday afternoon at McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg, and earlier in the day at Housing Work Bookstore Cafe in Soho.

In my final weeks in New York City, I have found myself inundated with memories tied to specific places, while realizing that I may never return to those exact neighborhoods, corners or shops again.

The feeling is not dramatic or sad. If anything, it’s been nice to spontaneously relive warm memories of this place that has been my home for the past four years. As I splashed around the pool with my friends at McCarren, I recalled my early days in Brooklyn. My first apartment was just a few blocks south of the pool. At the time, in August 2008, it had not yet been renovated by the city and was being used as a concert venue.*

A couple weeks after arriving in the city, I heard that Yo La Tengo was playing a free concert at the pool. I hadn’t yet made many friends in the city, so I set out on a solo outing, wandering up the street toward the sounds of distorted guitars wafting down Lorimer Street.

I soaked up the scene: hundreds (maybe thousands) of people of all ages relaxed around the empty, dilapidated pool as Yo La Tengo droned on and a light breeze helped alleviate the sticky, end-of-summer heat. I immediately felt comfortable in my new home.

I had a similar experience as I browsed the shelves of used books at Housing Works last week. More than a bookstore, it’s a community gathering spot, cultural institution and a welcome respite from the retail mayhem of Broadway Street, just steps away. I’ve been there for events, filled my shelves with quirky titles from the $1 bin and even made a great friend there while volunteering. It just feels very New York to me, and I’ll miss it.

I’ve also felt this way when strolling through Central Park, picnicking in Prospect Park, walking through Chelsea and meeting up with friends in the East Village.

It’s funny how easy it is to consider the whole city partly your own, even if you only passed through temporarily.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho is my favorite in the city.

*Fun fact: Located within the 35-acre McCarren Park, McCarren Pool was one of eleven pools opened by Robert Moses in 1936. The pool closed in 1984 and sat unused until the summer of 2005, when the empty pool basin opened as a popular venue for concerts, dance, and movies. In 2012, a renovated McCarren Pool opened as a center for year-round recreation for the residents of northern Brooklyn. The rehabilitation of the Pool preserved the historic bathhouse building and entry arch. Source: nycgovparks.org

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