Thursday, May 29, 2014


JJ Byrne Playground is a Home Away from Home

First thing in the morning, I pedal out to either a local park or the lounge-lobby of a small neighborhood-based hotel.  Doing so helps me clear my mind and start the day on an upbeat and note and energized mood.

There's something useful about finding a spot that's away from home, to get a bit of distance from day-to-day routines, but not go too far away, so I can return to my abode with some fresh ideas and inspiration for living.

When I was very young, and not able to go far away on my own, there were a few homes away from home.  One was the forts I built with my brother in our living room.  We took hours to fashion these structures where we could have our own space, a place to fill with sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals.  A little bit later, maybe during middle school years, I sometimes pitched a camping tent in our backyard to create the same kind of thing, only I would use bring a short wave radio in there to listen to music.

During college and post-college years, when I was became an east coast transplant from CA, my refuge became the Doylestown, PA  home of our dear family friend Rosie McVay.  Rosie, who gave me my own cozy room to sleep in, would include me in fun projects like making chocolate chip scones, washing down her patio furniture, and working in the local community garden.  She was like a Godmother to me, and I regarded her as a more laid-back, socially conscious version of Martha Stewart.  Rosie was so active in her community, that the mayor declared her 50th birthday "Rosie McVay Day" there in Doylestown.

Now, in midlife, I have several homes away from home.  One is my graduate school library, which is where is where I go to write and think.  While the local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is much closer to where I live, it's a bit too wild and woolly for real concentration and reflection.  Plus, the school has a cafeteria with gluten-free options!

Another retreat spot is a local boutique hotel.   The staff there is relaxed about having non-guests hang out in their lounge, so I often pedal out there very early in the morning to have a glass of water and read out of an inspiring book before heading home to eat breakfast.

A third spot is 2 places rolled into one.  It's The Old Stone House, a historic site in the center of Park Slope that also encompasses J.J. Byrne Playground.  It's a super short bike ride away from our place, and a great place to start the day:  it's filled with quick, mischievous black squirrels that are fun to watch; early-rising parents with their young children; and a few folks doing their a.m. exercise routine.

What are your favorite homes away from home, and what do you love about them?
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