If you’ve been feeling starved of action lately (outdoor action, gettin’ action, or just something exciting), don’t go running to New York or Trenton. There are lots of great things to do in Princeton! This weekend I tested the “Orange Bubble” and found it didn’t break—and I met some people, too. It all started when I walked to CVS on Friday, around 4:00, only to keep walking—past 185, left at Moran Ave. Down the street I went, and had only traversed about one hundred yards when I came across an old woman. Wizened in the most Tolkienian sense of the word, she stood about 4 feet tall with wild grey hair and a face worthy of Miyazaki—large, crinkled, happy. She was struggling to walk across the sidewalk in front of her house, and at the sight of me she perked up and asked for assistance. I walked her over to her gate and helped her lock it, “so my two dogs can run in the yard,” she explained. She quickly engaged me in conversation—am I a student at Princeton? Her son is a criminal defense lawyer in Trenton, and if he had to do it all over again, he would be a history teacher. I would make a good teacher, she said. (I was wearing a sweater.) She would offer me tomatoes or grapes, but all her tomatoes were stolen and there weren’t any grapes this season. As I walked her back up her stairs, I learned that her name is Betty, she’ll be turning ninety in two weeks, and that it’s hard getting old. I continued winding around the back roads of Princeton Township. There are some great houses, and some new ones. About ten minutes after I discovered Princeton High School, a man pulled over to the side of the road in his car and asked for directions—“How can I find Princeton High School?” “It’s just down the road.” (Yes! Am I a local or what? I thought.) Then, the kicker. About fifteen minutes after I had walked by the middle school (it’s next to the high school), another car pulled over to the side of the road. This time, a woman: “Do you know where Witherspoon Middle School is?” I ended up on Witherspoon Street. There’s a great deli down there, and a physiodontist, which I think is a made-up profession. I walked up to the Public Library. In the outdoor square I came across a trio of high school girls giving a performance—guitar, harp, viola, and two-part vocals. Their playing was really fantastic: a mix of Neko Case and Joanna Newsom (the harp helped). It was a shame; there were few people watching. They were still so confident! I also think the guitarist was making eyes at me, or maybe it was me making eyes at her. After they played I learned they were from the Lawrenceville School. One of their dads said they should take their act to “the Small World” and I agreed. Finally, I decided to return to whence I had come, CVS, for shampoo, floss, light bulbs (for my lamp), and a camera (for the memories). In line waiting to check out, I learned from a very chatty cashier that the kid in front of me had become a father just yesterday. “What’s his name!” she asked excitedly, and he replied, “Aidyn,” and muttered, “like the chipmunk.” (I think he meant “Alvin.”) He was probably about my age—nineteen. He showed the cashier a picture on his cell phone, and I congratulated him. Walking back to my room, I thought in amazement about all the people I had met over the past hour and a half. The things you learn when you step beyond Princeton’s gates! While some students may worry that the university isn’t involved enough with its community, the problem certainly isn’t a lack of outreach programs. Just take a walk, and you’ll find people. I’m invited back to Betty’s (if I need anything, or just to say hi), and I plan on taking her up on her offer.

Do you enjoy reading the Nass?

Please consider donating a small amount to help support independent journalism at Princeton and whitelist our site.