I cherish the mosaic of people who became part of my life: my family (who I hardly see but constantly think about), my college buddies (whose one year get-togethers feel like weíre still in school), my work friends (who I lunched and hung out with every day for seven years). All of them came together in this town, New York, where I was born and bred. But as New York natives gather around with pointed questions about my exodus, Iíve began to memorize my answers so as to save them some trouble.
By rote: Iíll miss the city. Wonít miss the noise or the traffice. No more neighbors banging on my walls. Life will be slower. I’ll get trees instead of concrete. Iíll be all about Walmart. People deserve better answers but I just canít sit there and tell them everything thatís on my mind. My wife asked me if Iím sad about leaving New York and as the trees zipped by I told her I was.
I will miss the city, I thoughtóthen stopped; I miss her already.
I was with her my entire life, breathing her air, feeling her beat and getting to know her rhythm. I knew her scent and adored her uniqueness. I was with her when she had her rough patches and when she went through her ugly phase, dealing with forty second street. I laughed when she stubbornly shined and put the Warner Brothers store dead smack in the middle of it all.
She seduced me with cheesecake eateries in Brooklyn, Pizza places in Manhattan and Bagel joints in Queens. She glittered with the galleries on Prince, and ruffled her feathers in the West Village…thrilling me with her extravagance. I even danced in one of her gay and colorful parades realizing moments too late that my flailing hetero arms didnít belong.
I strolled with her up from South Street Seaport through Chelsea, Mid-Town and right up Museum Mile to the very steps of the Met, enjoying one of her dirty water dogs. I rode her trains from the A at Rockway up to the Z in Brooklyn. I saw her bad sides, her fresh sides, her sweet sides and even those impossibly high sides from the Empire State Building where I would look down at her breath-taking sparkling lights.
Iíve listened to her music on and off Broadway, visited her zoos, parks, pools, playgrounds, and palatial mausoleums. Iíve skated in her rinks, laughed at her Mets, cheered on her Knicks, and stood tall behind her Yankees. In wild abandon, Iíve thrown myself into her waiting arms, sliding down a car-hood near the Cloisters.
Iíve grumbled at her politicians, laughed with her passing stars and visited those places that she always knew about but others decided to point out. I sat in horror watching her towers fall and nearly wept when I could smell the burning chemicals from miles away. I never thought Iíd see the day where fighter jets would stalk her skies or where military would stand close byÖbut I still stayed with her. It took me a few more years for me to accept that she grew up and was now out of my leagueÖI couldnít afford to be with her anymore. I had to go.
Thatís no way to answer Their questions though. Sure the city is stone and streetsÖbut for me sheís got a warm beating heart. In the end, the mosaic of people wishes me luck and Iím grateful. They make up the texture of my life. As for the city, well she gave me color. I have my pictures, my history and my memoriesÖbut, between you and me, Iíve gotta see her again: at least for a bagel.