I Heart NY
I did it. I did what I thought no true New Yorker would ever do. Not ever. I escaped from New York City. For good? Forever? For now. When I moved there in 2004 from Alabama, I never thought I’d last a year. I went from an extended stay hotel with an Asian transvestite hooker named Jack as a neighbor to a studio in a fabulous high rise luxury doorman building to a basement in an octogenarian’s apartment in a rundown building in Greenwich Village. All in just 10 very long months. Once I settled into my apartment on East 19th Street a year later, I was set. By that time, I had a nice-paying job, friends that I adored and a dysfunctional dating life that would make Carrie Bradshaw look sane. (Keep in mind this was 2004 so “Sex and the City” was still a relevant cultural touchstone.) And it only got better from there. Each year I got nice raises and nicer bonuses, I met more people and more friends, and I actually fell in love for an extended, yet still too brief, period of time. I was one of those people who would shame anyone who could possibly ever want to leave Manhattan. My love affair with The City was passionate and fun and spontaneous and exciting and all-consuming. Until it wasn’t.
I have written before in this blog about my growing dissatisfaction with my “nice-paying job.” And when it became too much, I saved some money and quit. Needing a break from the glamour and glitz—not to mention the price tags—I decided in 2012 to move to Provincetown and work in the service industry. Serving cocktails in skimpy bathing suits by the pool and concert halls at night, I was living the dream. I met a host of crazy characters, had a few torrid summer flings, and basically took a vacation from the real world. Since all vacations must end, mine eventually did. And I went back to New York. Turns out, sometimes you can’t go home again. The city gave me the cold shoulder. So I left again. Back to Provincetown in the winter. Everyone was jealous of my wintry bliss. Wintry bliss, my ass. It was brutal. But it did cement many friendships that were once just summer flings. Lifelong friendships at that. So I stayed through a very long winter and another fabulous summer.
Upon my arrival part deux in Manhattan, I was excited and optimistic that we could rekindle our love for each other and put the past behind us. And for a while, it looked like that could happen. Within two months, I got a job. A job that I really liked with people that I really liked and admired. Then the moves started. For various and boring reasons, I was forced to move from apartment to apartment to apartment. Within the course of one year, I moved five times. I also wasn’t making the money I made before and couldn’t afford to do all the things I loved as I could before Provincetown. It might have helped if I would have said “No thank you” to a bartender every once in a while. Or pushed away from the bar a couple of hours earlier at night. Because while I was gone, a phenomenon occurred. Life did not stand still. New York didn’t stop moving because I wasn’t there. People moved on. And for the first time, I found myself the only single person in my group of friends. People don’t realize it, but New York can be incredibly lonely on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the spring. But vino has a way of keeping me company. And it kept me company a lot.
And then I decided to go. I don’t even know if there was a straw that broke that camel’s back. The decision just crept into my brain. And life started to take shape again. I got an offer in Provincetown. A full time job that would afford me to live there. I found a house. And I said my goodbyes again to New York. This time it felt more final. I may go back someday. I have learned over and over to never say never. But for this time in my life, a new chapter had to be written. I will, however, miss working in skimpy bathing suits by the pool. But when I brought that up to my friend Kip, he said “Well does Speedo even make Depends?”
I’m not as young as I used to be and older than I ever intended to be.
In 2001, on the aforementioned cultural touchstone that will always be my cultural touchstone, Carrie Bradshaw, in voiceover, said the following: “It was official. A new season had begun. Maybe our mistakes are what make our fate. Without them, what would shape our lives? Perhaps, if we never veered off course, we wouldn’t fall in love, or have babies, or be who we are. After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life and people go. But it’s comforting to know the ones you love are always in your heart. And if you’re very lucky, a plane ride away.”
So after over ten years, a hundred or so Broadway shows, a few too many bottles of vino, and too many disastrous blind dates to count, I bid a fond farewell to that helluva town. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes inspiring, all the time interesting, New York was pretty damn good to me. It was a fantastic decade, the best decade of my life…so far. And to the friends I made for all those years, it wouldn’t have been the same without you. You will always be in my heart. And yes…just a plane ride away.