On August 15, 2009, I started my hiatus from New York City. I’ve decided to use the word “hiatus” so as to remind myself that come hell or high water I will come back. I made a very tearful goodbye to my dear friend Traci Klainer at the airport. It’s unfortunate that one of the cell phone companies wasn’t there to film it, as they could have used it for a commercial for text messaging! I cried for about the first hour’s flight out of my beloved city, the city with which I have had the greatest love affair of my life…thus far… After the floodgates stopped, the writing began. It was more a stream of consciousness than anything else. Here is what I wrote:
I spent my last day in NYC doing exactly the kind of things I would have done if it hadn’t been my last day in NYC. It just somehow seemed to be the best way to go because this is home. It has been home from the moment I landed fourteen years ago. And I think it always will be. I am a New Yorker.
The greatest love affair of my life has been with this city. And like any love affair we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve fought. I’ve been disillusioned at times. I’ve even imagined at moments what it would be like to live somewhere else. But when it comes down to it, every morning I woke up and walked to the subway to go to whatever satisfying or unsatisfying job I may have had, knowing with every fiber of my being there was no place I’d rather be.
I will miss everything. I will miss taking the city for granted…which is so easy to do. So here is my request of those of you I’ve left behind (albeit temporarily): Take the city for granted, let your life and the living of it consume you in however it happens…but for 2 hours once a week, look at New York for what it really is. Don’t take it for granted. Really take in the diversity of the best city in the world!
The way the neighborhoods change from one cultural idea into another. A community of little towns all jumbled together into the sprawl of this little group of islands.
Marvel at the fact that the kids on the subway may be annoying to you today and endearing tomorrow. Or that every once in a while New Yorkers surprise you…and hold the subway door or offer a seat to a pregnant woman. Get angry with New Yorkers because if you didn’t really love them then you wouldn’t care enough to get angry.
I will miss bitching about the tourists in Times Square. I will miss people playing their iPods and MP3s so loudly you can hear it through their tiny headphones. I will miss the subway – late or not, clean or dirty – because that was my reading time and my people watching time. I will miss the blackouts. The strikes! The little side streets in the West Village. The chess players in Washington Square park. The open-air market at Union Square.
I will miss the way I could find my way to anyplace I wanted to go in the five boroughs. The Queensborough Bridge. The Hell Gate Bridge. Queens! Long Island. Astoria. Williamsburg. Bed Stuy. Greenwich Village. The East Village. Alphabet City. Soho. Bushwick. Cobble Hill. Forest Hills. Brooklyn Heights. Chelsea. Long Island City. Sunnyside. Woodside. Jackson Heights. Harlem. Morningside. Stuyvesant High School. The gates of Columbia University. Local 802. Broadway. Atlantic Records and Rockefeller center. WebMD and the fact that I worked in the Old Port Authority building.
I will miss fire escapes. Apartments above restaurants. Bars underground. Bodegas on the corner. Tuna salad sandwiches from the local deli. And oh…bacon, egg and cheese. I will miss the Ear Inn. The Lion’s Head. Angel Share. Suenos and iCoppi and Los Amigos. The Beer Garden at Bohemia Hall. The 79th Street Boat Basin. Chelsea Market. Paul’s hamburgers. The hot dog vendors on the street…
I will miss the cool underwater subway mural at the Varick Street subway stop on the 1 and the hats at 23rd Street on the N. In fact, I will miss all the subway platform murals. The smell of sweat and urine that seems to permeate the subways in the summer. The way the snow blankets the city for a few fleeting moments before turning to a greyish brown slush from the continuous rush of traffic. The rush of yellow cabs moving en masse up and down the avenues of Manhattan at an interval like someone holding their breath for a long time and then letting it come gushing out. Trying to get a cab in the rain. Trying to get a cab to Astoria!
I will miss The Mets…and hating the Yankees! My Red Bulls…may they someday actually win some hardware! Making fun of New Jersey.
I will miss the Pepsi Cola sign on the East River as viewed from a cab going over the Queensborough late at night. The Empire State Building, especially in the late afternoon when the sun hits it just so making it glow silver. The Chrysler Building. The Flatiron Building. The old gaslights on the fountain at City Hall Park. I will miss MOMA, the Met, the Gugg, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum. The new High Line!
I will miss Central Park. Literary Walk. Bethesda Fountain. The Ramble. The Shakespeare Garden. Belvedere Castle. The Delacorte Theatre. And most of all the merry-go-round and Italian ices in the summer…
I ran out of steam at this point. It is not even close to a complete list of what I will miss. If there is anything on here that you haven’t done or someplace you haven’t been…then take one of those 2 hour time periods and go experience it. If not for yourself, then think of it as a gift to me.
Until I return…