The time has come to bid farewell to one of the most complicated yet steadfast relationships I have ever had. I lusted after New York City ever since I was a teenager. It terrified me upon arrival, and tried it darndest to get me to run away. I almost did; I’m glad I didn’t. And when it turned hostile a year later and pushed me out, I never stopped trying to get back in. But now, before bitterness sets in, I have decided to close a chapter that has brought me so much joy, so much heartache, and so many, many life lessons.
New York taught me how to be assertive, how to walk fast and speak up, how to shove my way inside a crowded subway car, and how to breathe without smelling the various foul odors that the city emitted from its bowels. It taught me how to make quick decisions, and that saying yes to things could mean ending up at a Lady Gaga concert on a Thursday night. It taught me to be fearless, to throw caution to the wind, and that there was no such thing as having nothing to do. It taught me about little cupcakes and big sandwiches, cheesy pizza slices and good beer. It taught me how to cry and it taught me how to love. Most of all, it taught me to be me.
Perhaps it’s better this way. I can now remember the city the way I fell in love with it: as a student with an abundance of free time to wander aimlessly, taking in the sights, doing all the things that New Yorkers eventually become too jaded to appreciate. I had a sublet downtown, mornings free to wander around the park and across the bridges, and the bubbling sort of energy that allows you to start up conversations with random strangers in the street who then end up being lifelong friends. Had I still been there now, I would have been living with three Craigslist roommates, and been as dead inside as the rest of the glassy-eyed people on the hour-long morning commute. I would have been complaining bitterly about the cold, about the ridiculous city taxes, the exorbitant rent, and the fact that I had no time to enjoy anything anymore. My friends would be scattered all across the five boroughs, and our plans to meet up would keep falling through, until one by one, we would leave, fed up, exhausted, and having had enough.
So I will keep my memories intact, and make a little pact with myself to try and visit as often as I can. Perhaps it will start off as once or twice a year. Perhaps I can finally spend a Christmas there that doesn’t involve me becoming snowed in for two days and subsisting on Aunt Jemima’s Frozen French Toast. The visits, I know, will then become fewer and farther in between. The memories, however, will never, ever fade.