Discovering delight in a strange city

The latest episode of This American Life challenges us to be more intentional about delight.

Host, Bim Adewunmi spends much of the show interviewing poet and ‘delight connoisseur’ Ross Gay. It is a beautiful conversation, which reminds us that joy and delight can – and should – be part of our day to day lives. 

This conversation made me reflect on the simple things that have brought me joy since moving to New York.

Restarting your life in a strange place can feel hard and lonely. But it is also full of unexpected delight. Here are the little things that make my heart sing… 

Cycling down the East River to work. The scenic river views are lovely – but eating up sixty blocks without putting my foot down is the real delight.

Bagels. Every single one of them.

The Post Office next to Grand Central Station. I used to regularly write cards for friends and family, but I’ve let this slip in recent years. Being far from home has rekindled this delight. I love that the Post Office connects my commute to home. I also love the little bit of joy a card brings your loved ones.

Meeting new and interesting people. I’m lucky enough to have lots of lovely friends who’ve introduced me to their lovely friends. There is something about this distant connection in a foreign place that leads to incredibly fortifying conversations. For me, it is the combination of knowing enough about each other to establish an instant rapport, whilst being free from the strictures of home. I’ve loved these conversations – and they are much easier to come by when out of your comfort zone.

Having coffee and breakfast at home before I leave the house. I’m discovering the joy of morning pottering – not rushing to work and wolfing down food at my desk, as had become standard.

Swimming in the rain. New York has some amazing outdoor pools, but New Yorkers do not swim in the rain. Cue moody summertime swimming all to yourself. Bliss.

Joining a library. Waiting for the book I’ve placed on hold takes me back to the teenage joy of waiting for a band’s newest album. New York is very much a place where almost everything you want or need is immediately in reach. This is wonderful, but delayed gratification is often underrated. Plus, discovering different books while waiting for the one I’ve placed on hold is a new delight; I’ve devoured Elizabeth Strout’s back catalogue whilst waiting for Olive, Again.

Snowy Cycle
A snowy cycle along the East River

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