Our breakup was inevitable. I moved about an hour west of NYC ten months ago. I knew the lure of the city could call at any minute, so I needed to be close without suffocation. I would only be a short drive or train ride away. In the beginning, it was still a joy to return. The collective energy of so many people both physically and in the structures made has always been inspiring and quick. It was like a drug. We had some good times, like that time when I sat in a park having a picnic on a first or second date by the Hudson and it rained one of those quick summer downpours, but it didn't matter because we were falling in love or that time (or 20+ times) that I sat outside with friends after a night of partying and dancing until the sun came up, talking about any and everything or all of those times I listened to live music under the twinkling lights of skyscrapers, drunk on your beauty and rhythm. We've had plenty of fights too, like that time I was trying to cross Canal in traffic to make the Radiohead concert in Newark. You almost made me miss that or all those nights you kept me up in the name of progress and gentrification adding another one of your noisy, sometimes vapid bars around my building. We've had more good times than bad; I do admit it. I have walked your streets, headphones and good music with a big smile and confidence. I imagine once summer comes around, I may sneak in for a fix, maybe, but relapse rarely works out. But sometimes I just can't help it. You know how to lure. My most favorite memories are sitting in a park writing and people watching on any hot day. New York, you are well behaved and more mellow in the warmest months. She slows down to a crawl, but all those other months, I am left exhausted. There's too much fighting just to be near you. The fight is no longer appealing nor is your superficial charm of glittering nights draped in a new only-the-pretty-people-can-go-to hotspot. Why can't anything be deep with you? You have so much potential to go beyond your charming demeanor. It peaks out on occasion, but I'm tired of your hiding and thinking that everything is about money or looks.
It finally happened and not a trial go of it, but the end. Finality. I broke up with New York for good on Friday, April 11, 2014, but it was confirmed the next morning alone in my hotel room in Albuquerque during a brief meditation. There was no doubt and all fear and hesitation vanished in the kind of tears that come only from pure release, a cleansing kind.
NYC, I love you, but your promises have become quite a bore and an earful. It is exhausting to have to find an "it" thing to do or the next best restaurant to be at just because. Yes, I've gone to so many of those places and many of them are quite fantastic and worth every penny, but every excursion should not have to be about money or being fabulous. Perhaps, you could be just about being. I know, I know, I'm implying that you change and that I know how to fix you. Truth is you don't need fixing. Baby, it's not you; it's me. I'm changing and I would rather sit by a babbling brook or on a rock in the mountains or find free parking right in front of the restaurant or coffee spot or not be pushed when going on a train. Who needs to be that fast and demanding all the time? I can see I'm just going in circles with this one.
On April 11, 2014 as I walked through lower Manhattan, I tried to dodge out of a father and daughter's way, but ended up being slightly in the path of a woman and her friend. The woman, talking to her friend did not notice me at all. The woman stepped on my foot and was appalled, not that she stepped on my foot, but that I was in her way. She looked right through me after I apologized to her. Mumbled to her friend more shock and dismay that I was a disruption to her morning routine and the woman proceeded to have more concern (because she put it back in place -- it actually did not move, just rattled) for the wire newspaper rack that contained only one paper. Not once did she acknowledge me. At that moment I knew. Done. Symbolic of you New York. Self-involved, no real connection -- you don't even see any part of my soul. You just want to gobble up more of my money and self-image. If I had been in my new small town, we would've all acknowledged each other, not the newspaper rack and been kinder. You would have recognized my pain and embarrassment instead and made it better. That same woman would have showed concern for stepping on my foot and I would have apologized and we would have laughed and gone on our merry ways. I know this. My new home isn't perfect, but it is gentler and more accommodating to the new, reclaimed mellower me, the one who grew up loving nature and walking barefoot. I'm finally tired of the energy it takes to pretend all the time and live in a stoic and surface level frenzy of distraction. "New York, I love you but you're freaking me out." Thank you, James Murphy. I couldn't have said it better.