I decided to write about the items that I do off my 30 things to do before I’m 30. Clearly I’m not writing these in order since I’ve completed some others prior to this entry. However, this is my favourite so far.
I wanted to go to the Green-wood Cemetery because someone at work told me it was beautiful.
Why is it a challenge:
I don’t like cemeteries… They are on the same level, to me, as hospitals, they creep me out. I just think that I haven’t came into general perception of life versus death. I used to live near enough to one when I lived in Dominica and if I ever passed by after dusk, I’d run very fast to the other side. There’s also something weird to me about walking on hallow ground—yes, I am very aware that superstitions play a huge role in my life.
I even find it quite difficult visiting my brother’s grave when I go home to the Caribbean. While exploring Green-Wood, I realized that every gravesite had a story. The hundreds of people buried there lived decades—centuries ago, and I wondered what they lived through. Obviously, most lived in a world unlike what we experience now with social media… I wondered how NYC was back then. It was a very quiet time to reflect on life itself.
Anyway Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day and since I don’t really go to the beach here (c’mon I’m from an island), I decided to take my bike out. I bought a bike pump recently so I have no excuse—like I have no air in my tires. I fueled up and biked about 5 miles just south west of Prospect Park where I came upon this outside the gates of The Green-wood Cemetery:
I dismounted and walked over to this beautiful entrance:
I read that anyone can go in during visiting hours so my place was to record my route then take photos (video isn’t allowed in the cemetery) but my GoPro Camera died en route so I just had my Samsung Galaxy S4 photos and instagram.
I stopped at the entrance where I met a patrol guy, whose name I found out later—Mike who gave me a map of the grounds.
I made my way up Battle Avenue for a little and stared at how beautiful most of the headstones and tombs were.
After realizing how vast these burial grounds were, I realized that there were famous people buried here. 20 of them were located on the map, including BASQUIAT!
I realized that I was much too far to walk to his grave (since we weren’t allowed to run/jog there)—and I really didn’t intend to run that day. So, I found some closer ones including the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers:
Charles Ebbet. Then I found the Father of Baseball:
I thought that Basquiat was too far so I started to make my way back out. I figured that I’d bike around the cemetery a bit closer and try walking again however I ran into Mike. He asked me if I wanted a lift… I don’t get into cars with strangers! However, he seemed trustworthy. I’m so happy that I did!
He told me stories of himself when he was younger and he used to run around the cemetery. He used to run track but his knees aren’t great anymore. He’s been there for about 4 years and his favourite piece in the cemetery is actually “The Greeter.”
Mike and I had conversations about death and how interesting it was. Did you know it takes an hour per 100lbs in the crematorium? In the crematorium they roll the bodies in and it comes out in ashes on the other side. There, they sort through—with gloves thankfully, to ensure everything was cremated.
If it wasn’t for Mike, I wouldn’t have seen Basquiats grave. First of all, you’d expect it to be bigger… Basquiat’s grave is actually very modest.
It’s in a row with others and people keep leaving gifts on top of it. I found this very cool.
I had a great day and even more accomplished about this goal because I didn’t expect to find the resting place of one of my most favoured artists.
After, Mike showed me The Greeter…
Then Koi fish…
Thank you Mike!
After my journey, I biked back and I realized that I was out of fuel so I had a mid-afternoon meal:
Before heading back home:
I most definitely want to go back. Next time, I’ll research others that are buried there.
If you’re interested in going there: