Usually, when we think of traveling, we think of leaving the town/state/country for some exotic locale. My upcoming trip to Europe, my friend’s trip to Libya, and my parents’ trip to Florida – all of those are “traveling.” But walking around the fine city of New Haven yesterday, I realized that we tend to consider commuting to work…well, commuting, rather than traveling. I’m lucky enough to live in New England, where big, awesome places like New York and Boston are just a short car ride away, but until I wandered around the Yale campus, I had forgotten all about the city I work in.
New Haven, CT is usually on the list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, behind places like Bridgeport, Camden, Oakland, and Detroit. As someone that’s been in Connecticut for nearly seven years, and has been working in New Haven for the last four years (and lived there for a bit over a year), I have gotten the emails about rapes and shootings and muggings…but haven’t ever experienced the feel of a dangerous city. My disclaimer is that I usually stick to downtown around the Yale campus, during mostly working/daylight hours, but I still haven’t ever been really afraid for my life. Instead of fear, what I have felt is a strong multicultural climate (thanks, Yale), with lots of history and tradition and a strong sense of both Connecticut and city pride.
While wandering around campus on my way to the bank (ok, I was actually hauling ass), I got stuck on the phone with my mom, and therefore had to stop in the middle of a street to speak to her. Sometimes, you just can’t walk and talk to Mom at the same time. I decided to look up, and saw something I hadn’t really taken in the time to appreciate before: A pretty façade on a dorm, with intricate carvings and stunning masonry.
I started to walk slowly, taking in my surroundings. I began to think that perhaps, instead of associating New Haven with a crappy 35-mile commute, and rich, idiot students that wear flip flops and shorts in the snow and wonder why they’re cold, I have really been missing out on some gorgeous aspects of the city that have only ever considered “where I work.” I was totally oblivious until now, and from that day, I’ve had a new-found appreciation for the Elm City.
I realized, after a few (slower) walks downtown for various made-up reasons, that I’m working in a city with so much beauty and culture to offer, if we just take the time to look around and notice them. And, sometimes, we just have to look up.