NYC Breakup

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.

My Heart Is in California

I have lived the clichés—I didn't want to return to the past in an attempt to recapture something that no longer existed. You know that one tired saying: you can never go home again. BS. You can go wherever the hell you want. I convinced myself through logic and narrowing of thought that I needed to be bold (which I did—we all do), but the boldness stopped there by narrowing my entire life to two choices. I return to California or I move to New York. There was no choice in the middle; I pretended there was by applying to the University of Cincinnati (it was an attempt to stay small and please my mother). I was in Kentucky for three years after high school, a dismal, life-altering experience. I hated Kentucky for everything it wasn't: California, endless sunshine, eucalyptus trees, beaches, flip-flops. I had few friends and none of them knew me, not like the friends who have known you since you had that terrible flat top in the 80's (I did). Plus, Kentucky was where rheumatoid arthritis first showed up full-blown and debilitating and altering my body as I knew it. Pre-Kentucky, pre-arthritis, I was active with ease—I ran, worked out, danced, hiked, swam. I had a beautiful, unappreciated body (by me)—typical teen girl crap, not skinny enough, legs too big, tried too hard to work on my looks instead of my brain. I'd love that body like crazy now even more than I love my current body. I'd probably jump and skip and run everywhere instead of walk just because.

Condensed version: going back to California seemed like, at the time in 1992, that I was trying to relive freedom and an on top of the world feeling instead of learning something new (not that New York wouldn't include any of those feelings—I have felt it all on the East Coast). It's just that, I knew pure joy in California. I suppose New York had always been a lure with some of my favorite movies as inspiration: When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck (I lived in that neighborhood for a brief period eventually!), Annie Hall. Plus, I loved anything related to fashion, so New York won out. I'm glad it did. I lived on my own for the first time. I loved hard here. I had my kids. I explored a few careers. I fell in love with the energy of vastness New York creates. I moved there right after my 21st birthday and have been in the area ever since. I have done everything here. I grew up in the truest sense and I appreciate and honor every beautiful and difficult moment I've had here (there have been tons -- trust me, many of which I will write about at a later date). But, now I know, like really, absolutely without a doubt, and I'm ready to go back.

Last year I moved about an hour west of the city for my kids and for some quiet. The first moments spent in the yard reading and writing, I felt like I was finally somewhere that felt more like California: pretty and in tune with nature. I have cypress trees and rolling mountains all around. I can hear myself think. People aren't hostile on a regular basis. I can find parking in town. My new neighborhood is freakin gorgeous with all of the Victorians and colonials and history. My house was built sometime around 1870. Pretty awesome (I refuse to go in the attic—too many horror movies as a child). For New Jersey and the East Coast, this area is a pretty close second home, but it isn't nor will it ever be California. I will take it for now, for the as close to idyllic landing space that it is before returning to the place where I must be by choice. I know it is so.

There have been tons of aha moments spilling out over the past ten months or so, about the time when I started paying closer attention to what my heart was really trying to tell me, when I began being closer to my authentic self. There have been too many crazy coincidences (which of course, I don't believe in—no such thing. Every encounter is part of an infinite plan), essentially tons of synchronicity floating around so many aspects of my life, but one of the biggest ones is knowing that I can no longer deny where my soul wants to be. Sure, I can make do here. Who wants to keep making do? There is absolutely nothing wrong with where I am, nothing, but my molecular structure is closely aligned with Southern California. How and when I will be there isn't totally clear, but I have some ideas that are taking shape. No more denying where I should be. I know fully.