The Turtles of Central Park


Last week I discovered something rather interesting about myself:  I have an unhealthy infatuation with the turtles of Central Park.

I love Central Park.  Like, it's easily in my top three places in the world.  I mean, what's not to love?  It's filled with men with foreign accents and puppies.

That's not true.  I mean, the park is filled with foreign tourists and the cutest of dogs, but oddly enough that isn't what I love about the park.

I love the fact that it is the only place on this island in which I can truly get lost (other than below West 4th Street, let's be real).  Outside of the park, there are signs and numbers and names and maps and thousands of people who know where they're going whom I could ask.  Inside the park there are senseless maps, trees for landmarks, confusing and winding paths, and memories to mark the way.  Sure, you can download the Central Park Conservancy app to find your way around.  But I prefer to think of myself as an urban nature explorer--and exploring of nature in urban environments, I suppose.  I get lost on the paths amongst many lost tourists, wandering around and around until eventually I learn to navigate towards the landmarks I love the most.

But there is only one place in the park that has a magnetic pull on me.  I'm sure it has this effect on many of the millions of fellow wanderers who accidentally walk the path that is my pilgrimage to this sacred space.  To be honest, the rock is nothing special.  Just off 77th and Central Park West, there is a huge rock that juts out of the ground next to the lake.  But, no matter from where I enter the park, be it 110 and 5th or 59th and 6th, I still make my way, unconsciously, to sit on this rock.  If I have a book, I can sit there for hours just sunning my legs and reading.  Without a book, I'll make a phone call or two to catch up with the friends I too often neglect.  But no matter what I always end up just watching the nature around me--watching the turtles.

People paddle around on rowboats and make a lot of noise, but their conversations and antics don't interest me at all.  When I first arrive at the sacred location, I do one of two things:  I check to see if my favorite sunning stone is free, or at least empty enough that I won't feel too awkward sitting too close to a couple clearly on a date.  But even if the seat is free, I will always first go check on my turtles.

Here's the weird part.  I don't like turtles.  I never had the urge to have a pet turtle--they're not soft and furry!  At the zoo as a child I was never fascinated with their deliberate gait or their supposedly beautiful shells.  Nope, I never liked turtles until I discovered this stone by the Ramble in Central Park.

The turtles are amazing.  They're not doing anything special, really.  They're just sunning themselves on rocks.  Sometimes they stand on each other, which is always great.  They swim a lot, which is just fascinating.

I don't know what it is about those turtles.  It just makes me happy to see them.  Perhaps it's because I spend a lot of my time at that rock just by myself, reflecting on everything in life.

I've finally discovered what my spirit animals is.  


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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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