Come summer, especially on weekends, certain New Yorkers leave the city to vacation, heading out to the Hamptons or the Berkshires or the Catskills or the Jersey shore, to roadside motels, seasonal rentals and second homes.
The rest of us, on the other hand, choose to stay put and summer in the city.
Make no mistake: the impulse to go away, especially in August, is human nature.We feel a primal urge to break away from sweltering subway stations and honking cabs, and go off for a change of scene, a place cooler, quieter and more rustic, just about anywhere as long as it's elsewhere. The very ritual of hauling yourself off can feel liberating.
This flocking instinct is also perhaps an issue of prestige.
Weekending in, say, Provincetown carries a certain snob appeal. It confers higher social status, relegating some of us left behind to feeling unhip, provincial, even vaguely stigmatized.
Our family has taken an annual exodus in summers past.We've vacationed in Southhampton and Martha's Vineyard.We belonged to a beach club on Atlantic Beach, Long Island, for nine years.And we still visit Mystic, Connecticut, every August for a few days.
But in recent summers we've rediscovered the city and the advantages right in our own backyard, sampling local pleasures we seldom make enough time for between September and May.The Bronx Zoo.The Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Arthur Avenue and Astoria.The Staten Island Ferry.
Staying close to home on summer weekends comes highly recommended.Tourists cross oceans and spend fortunes just to visit our attractions, but we're already here. Getting around town, and on a shoestring, is easy. Why go anywhere if everything is already here? You benefit from the ultimate luxury: convenience.
Skipping town, while an opportunity exploited, is also an opportunity missed.Some Upper West Siders have seen Rome but never Harlem, much less Queens.
Besides, the city on summer weekends is special, a city different, markedly so, from that of fall, winter or spring.It has fewer people around, fewer cars, and thus more room to maneuver, more seats available for espresso in a sidewalk café, more air to breathe, and it's quiet enough at night to hear the street lights change. It's also in a mood more leisurely.You can witness the rare phenomenon of New Yorkers walking slowly.
In sticking around, you also feel a kinship with all the other diehard homebodies here.It's suddenly a city that feels smaller, more hospitable and intimate, somehow once again made ours.Summer camp for adults.Camp New York City.
So consider staying.Escape the urge to escape. Think of here as the new away, even if only on alternating weekends.Stay because you'll be going green and contributing to your local economy.Stay because you'll be committing a gesture of pride and loyalty toward your hometown, truly earning your stripes as a citizen of our city.
Bob Brody, an executive and essayist, lives in Forest Hills. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.