A long time ago, I read a Cosmopolitan article that enumerated little initiations into womanhood. The only one I remembered, however, was “acquire the ability to go out to restaurants alone”. Though the article was published in 2013, the first time I actually put this into practice was my freshman year of college. I must have been so hyped about new levels of independence that I immediately threw myself into the city and wandered until I found the perfect restaurant. It was weird. It was uncomfortable. But it was definitely worth it. I remember specifically reading a huge book (Great Expectations, I think…) at a candlelit table, linens AND ALL. I looked up to see the waiter pitifully and stealthily lifting the second set of flatware and menu from the other side of the table. I fought my discomfort. I ate pasta and I read. And it was refreshing.
I often reflect on this seemingly trivial and negligible experience, wondering what made it so profound, and today I remembered why.
I’m just gonna skip to the good stuff. Keep reading if it interests you. On the T into town, I was cutting it close with time. This is kinda dumb but I was super giddy that the train I thought I needed to be on was the One After 909. I ended up having read the map all wrong, go figure. Anyway, when I got into Providence, I was determined to keep my phone in my purse (inspired by the age-old question, “How did our parents get around without cell phones?”). I followed some businessmen leaving the train station into the downtown area, and from there found my way to the RISD museum which is where I got my art-fix (Providence is apparently the creative capital of New England) and a map. I then, enveloped by nostalgia, followed a super steep hill up to Brown. What’s a bit unsettling is that I had this jamais vu experience throughout my stroll around campus, like I had walked up and down this hill, marched through and loitered in this quad many times yet they didn’t feel any bit familiar to me today, despite the fact that my emotional memory typically clings to everything.
I then made my way through the “Downcity Arts District” (???) to find the shopping that Racked recommended, on Westminster. The street is so cute! Maybe it was because it was a random Wednesday, but it was just super quiet and deserted. I visited some of the stores that were recommended and I honestly did not like any of them that much. If anyone is genuinely curious, I can write a separate post about all of that but I just felt like that would take up too much space in this one.
Anyhow, I fumbled with this weirdly creative map (that had its own set of recommendations), trying to make my way toward Federal Hill, which apparently hosted many of their fave restaurants. I legitimately felt like I was in a movie because, along the way, I stumbled into a super cool bookstore sandwiched between pubs, and up a steep and dark staircase in an old building. But Federal Hill is defs a hike. Well, a pretty easy walk I guess but it’s not downtown… it’s across highways. Good reviews online but overall gave me sketchy vibes. And not as pretty as the downtown part but I can see where it would have its own charm/community feel.
Side note: I’m gonna try to minimize all the words so we’re gonna try to get very succinct. Ate at a place called the Grange. Not gonna lie, it seemed very out of place. Nothing much around it, but it’s a hipster, vegan food place that’s super Minneapolis-esque. From the photo you can see I had a roasted veggie bowl with a cranberry-orange scone!! 10/10. Reasonably priced, awesome atmosphere, quiet. (I ate lunch at like 3 PM so that’s probably why lol). I made an effort to put all things away and just sit and eat. It felt so unnatural, which is kind of shameful. When, nowadays, do we ever just eat and stare off into space? It’s like I got bored or something. Eating, while a favorite past-time of mine, is not a past-time in and of itself. It must be accompanied by something else to make it enjoyable. Like running: Good for you but it’s near-intolerable unless you have music. I digress. Eating and just kind of staring off into space or people watching is why I thought back to that Cosmo article. This time around, though I felt slightly bored, I felt super comfortable and so content. I mean, I wish I had had a buddy with me, of course, but still. I was making the most of my free day, exploring (my absolute favorite thing) and reflecting. Life just felt so right.
After lunch I found these two stores near the highway. The first was Rocket to Mars, a highly curated vintage store. Her collection was unbelievable (home decor, home goods, clothing, pictures…etc) and also fairly priced. That was my complaint about the Vault Collective: Great selection and interesting vendor concept but outrageously priced. We’re talking like, $50 for jeans. (why???) Then I found Share Space and met the nicest guy there. It was less vintage and more of a like a collection of independent designers, but I bought two random pins to add to my denim jacket. It’s borderline weird now, how many pins are on it, but I’m pretending that it’s hip. They also have nothing to do with anything other than being bright and possibly retro-inspired (do Vincent Van Gogh and Marshmallow Fluff count as retro and hip pins???)
Tried to find the water, walked through Kennedy Plaza, crossed the river to the pretty part and wandered the steep streets on College Hill. Went inside the Providence Athenaeum. Super gorgeous. Went in some other libraries, Old State House, etc etc. That was basically the rest of my day! I covered a ton of ground.
I forgot how small Providence was. It’s a reminder that Boston is just the most incredible and awesome city! But I’m happy to have gone, seen the sights, crossed it off my bucket list and soon I can tackle more destinations in New England. But most importantly, I’m just kinda proud of myself for adulting and venturing off into Rhode Island by myself and sticking to the basics. I like to think I’m getting the hang of it, a bit!