Dear New York:
It's been a while since we had a real conversation, hasn't it? Last time we talked I don't really think it ended well, and we both decided to give it some time-a few months, if my memory recollects correctly, and until the year's end to be specific-and then revisit this relationship and see how things were working.
At the time, New York, I came to you like a lapsed Catholic, only seeking solace in confession when things were going wrong. I would pound the pavement of your stone heart and beg for something, anything, to give, for a handhold or a foothold or just the opportunity for one night to fall asleep with a peace in my heart and in my head.
I was told I shouldn't openly write about or discuss how you were kicking my ass, New York. That it, that my search for some sort of truth or lesson in the experiences I was having, was making me look bad. I only bring this up (I didn't care then and I care less now) because there was talk, whispered hushes that we'd engage in particularly when I was drunk and sad, feeling lost and adrift in a sea of lights and movement that neither welcomed me nor rejected me but rather, as though in full awareness of my life's biggest fear, acted with utter apathy towards my existence, of us parting ways for good. You and I had decidedly amicably and with little fanfare that, at the end of 2009, if we couldn't make this twisted, fucked-up relationship that vacillates from love to hate and back 'round again work, I was going to cut my losses and leave. You'd get to keep what was rightfully yours-namely, everything (though what I didn't tell you then and I hesitate to even tell you now is that you weren't at all aware you'd recently taken ownership of my heart, though I'm willing to bet the stars in my eyes give that game away), and I'd go-well, hell, we never got that far, did we? I'm a runner, as in I like to be able to, and an escape artist of sorts, and I like my opt-outs and my clauses and I've become adapt at skirting out of parties with a "I just need to...I'll be right back" only to retreat to safe grounds of my choosing.
With you, New York, there is no safe ground, and nothing's easy. Being in a relationship with you is fucked up and sado-masochistic in a way, but not without its rewards. I used to swear by the Atlanta skyline at night (particularly when driving into the city with Outkast playing), but in 5 months yours has won me over.
In 5 months, New York, I've lived a lifetime of adventures, good and bad. And when, after meeting a friend/soon-to-be vlog partner for drinks in Brooklyn this week, I hailed a car to take me back to Astoria. When the driver somehow thought "Astoria" meant "Babycakes" and I ended up deep in Manhattan (cough cough WRONG WAY cough), I slammed my palm against the window and sighed, heavily, "I just fucking want to be home."
I only bring this up because today is my last day in the apartment which has acted as harbor for me for the entirety of our time together, New York, and not for the reasons I'd ever thought. I'm moving, yes, but just down the road-you see, I find Astoria agreeable to me. Yes, New York, it's where I feel like home.
Home. I've lived a nomadic fucking life, New York (one of my favorite Ani Difranco quotes: "I don't keep much stuff around/I value my portability"), and I have to ask:
who the fuck are you to wrap yourself around my brain and my heart and suddenly, without me even knowing, become my definition of "home"?
You've taught me gratitude, New York, in our 5 months together. So much has happened, so much magic and wonder and fucked-up shit and beauty and did I say magic already because magic. You've taught me some debts-like what I owe all those who opened their lives to me-will never be repaid simply because they can't be, there's no currency, tangible or not, in the world that can come close to functioning on that level.
In the past 5 months, I've achieved successes I never thought possible, and felt myself dropped to levels that, though I would love to never again reach, I know I'll approach again. I was never one to wax poetic on a city, New York, but I can do nothing but credit you for the good and the bad. For the rise and the fall, and the rise again. I moved from feeling like everything was crumbling around me in Atlanta to a couch in Queens through the grace of friends, and that one simple act has taught me the definition of "friendship". And now? Now my life just keeps going...and growing.
Between my freelance work and my full-time work, New York...I've clawed, tooth and nail, and I feel like I'm on something. The cusp of something. And I know we'll fight again. But, New York, as I pack the last of my stuff for a move I never dared to dream could happen, namely one that wasn't me leaving you for good? I just have to offer you up a word of thanks. I know now I can never conquer you, but tiny victories inside your boundaries are possible on a daily basis. This is my last day on 24th Ave, New York. And god, what a beautiful, humbling, unexpected experience it's been. And I know there's more.
Fuck you, New York. I love you. And thank you.