Taking It to the Streets

Yesterday I told myself that, if I could make it from midnight to 6am, I’d somehow find a way to get through the rest of my first 24 Hour Project. At this moment (7:22 pm), I’m not so sure.

I am sore and exhausted. All the walking I’ve been doing seems to have invited a recurrence of painful tendinitis in my hips. and the knee that’s scheduled to be replaced this summer is shouting all kinds of words my phone would have a hard time typing.

I thought midnight to 6 would be the roughest time because those late-night hours are the least familiar to me. Yes, in my often-doing-dangerous-and-unwise-things youth, I have stories about nights out on the street, but I floated through none of those adventures alone. Being alone on the street at 3am is a strange thing. And that means that — as much as you wish there were other people around — as soon as you see someone, you wonder what on earth they’re doing out at such an hour and what trouble they’re up to and if they’re going to sprinkle any of it on you. Irksome.

And midnight to 6 was hard — well, midnight to 5-ish because after that I was with a friend and his friends until 6. I left my house at 11:15 — already a serious weirdness — and was on my own until connecting with my friend at Times Square just before 5am. I had a hourly-on-the-half-hour safety check-in text plan with my street-photog friend, and that was nice. We weren’t crazy about adhering to it to the minute, but knowing he was keeping track of me from time to time helped a little with my nerves.

All that alone time was a challenge because a) we had a wet snow storm yesterday to celebrate the vernal equinox and by later evening the ground was an ice-and-slush mess and the snow had given over to sleet; b) I had a hard time finding people to take pictures of … New York may still be a city that doesn’t sleep but folks are clever enough to stay in when the weather is ridiculous (see item “a”); c) the number of easy super-late-night or all-night places for me to step out of the cold has dramatically decreased since I was more regularly out late-late at night. Found a coffee shop around 2:30 … a coffee shop with no seating (!!), no outlets for me to recharge my phone, and no bathroom. In other words, the worst coffee house ever. Found a diner an hour later, and that fed me, warmed me up, had a good restroom. Yes, my pancakes were a little soggy, but pancakes weren’t priority. At six I discovered a waiting room in Grand Central (train station) that had outlets. Perfect!

So I tackled the most problematic hours, and that feels like an accomplishment. I know that, in planning for next time, there are some important things to build into my strategy:

  • list of coffee shops and diners that are open and that have outlets or charging stations
  • list of hotels that will let random people off the street use their lobby rest rooms (found a great one around 5:30 near Times Square: beautiful place with beautiful bathrooms and the loveliest young man on concierge duty)
  • MUCH smaller, lighter bag — don’t want to tell you all the ish I packed with me yesterday. Happily, made a stop back home to feed my cats and ice my knee, and dumped more than half that stuff
  • more comfortable walking shoes — the boots I’m wearing are fine (especially with the great insoles I bought for them), but something better would be, well, better

I also want to plan for more paired or group late-night walking. That will be better for my peace of mind, and will surely also lead to better and more photos. I spent so much time being nervous on the street last night that I missed many, many shots.

All in all, I’ve done well so far. I’m completely exhausted — which would be true anyway, but is especially true because my big plan to work a half day Friday then go home and sleep went down in flames. My body wasn’t ready to sleep and just wouldn’t. In the end, after my grand plan, I managed about 90 minutes of sleep before it was time to walk out the door. Crazy.

For now, time to get back out there and finish strong: 4 more hours of photos to find!


It’s the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by the wonderful people over at Two Writing Teachers! Every day this month, hundreds of writers will be posting their stories. Head on over and check out the other slices!

SOL image 2014

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18 thoughts on “Taking It to the Streets

  1. Wow, that was fascinating to read! I also am not familiar with this project but I am going to try to find out more now. As I’m typing this now, you have a few more hours to go. Hope you make it!

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    1. Thanks, Tara. My last few hours were great, thanks in large part to being joined by my friend Josh, who walked with me through some streets I wouldn’t have walked on my own (because they were small, dark, and unfamiliar). He also took me to this tiny, crazy karaoke bar I’d never heard of. Those two hours gave me a bunch of good pictures to choose from for my 9:00 hour and 10:00 hour photos.

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  2. You had a good safety plan for checking in with a friend. I’m sure if you repeat this project, you will iron out more small details. Nice work. Will you post some of your pictures?

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  3. I wondered about you…had to look for your post today to make sure you were okay! And you are! Yea! I felt like a mother worrying over her child! I hope we get to see pictures! And I am truly thankful that this is turning out to be a good experience.

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    1. Thanks, Maureen. I definitely think there will be a next time. A next time with much better planning! Am I adventurous? I don’t see myself that way (though I like the idea). It’s just that some things are too fun or interesting to pass up!

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