New York is a very large city. It’s made larger by the habits of New Yorkers. In a city this large, it’s easy to fall into patterns and spend most of your time in one, two or three neighborhoods, rarely venturing into “unknown” territory. A friend moves — and you explore a “new world.” You get a new job — and here’s another new one.
But the status quo is, well, status quo.
Every now and then, I’m introduced to an entirely new — and entirely frightening — place. I was headed to an off-Broadway theater. I took a subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop and headed west on Chambers Street. This is a part of Manhattan that never fails to confuse me. A few blocks away in any direction I’m fine — Chinatown, SoHo, the Bowery, even the area around the courthouses is familiar turf, but… The theater turned out to be further south and further west, and the walk from subway, on a dark winter’s evening proved to be an adventure.
I misjudged the distance, or misunderstood the directions, and walked right passed the Borough of Manhattan Community College campus and found myself walking alone on an elevated walkway above a busy multi-lane road. I climbed up the wide stairway, carefully stepping over the patches of hard-packed black snow, and up into a corridor connecting one part of Chambers Street to the next.
I was alone — completely alone — a pretty strange state of being in NYC.
This is where my imagination took over. What a great place for an urban vampire to hunt! What a wonderful spot for a murder! And as I approached the far end, I realized that what appeared to be the sole exit was a locked access to a city high school. Then I spotted my escape, a winding staircase — also spotted with black ice.
When I reached the other side and realized I’d gone too far and needed to retrace my steps — and repeat my trip through the covered bridge in the night — my imagination went wild. I made it to the theater with plenty of time, but only after I’d managed to scare the shit out of myself. It’s an occupational hazard, but I’m glad I discovered a new scary spot and I will definitely use it in a story one day soon.