I have never been able to voice the reasons why I had to move to New York in 2007. I had visited since I was a kid, I’d never wanted to live here, and then, suddenly, urgently, I did. I rustled up a job in midtown and got here in July 2007.
I didn’t know what to do with myself for the first few years. Yes, I had a great job and great friends, but I didn’t do much living here. The way I lived, the things I did, the places I went, I could have been living in any fine city. Then in 2009, I got dumped, did the NYC triathlon, got a new job, moved, and in the course of that, I warmed up to the place a lot. As some of you may recall, I went on a lot of dates, and dates are the kind of thing that take you to corners of the city that you’d never have been otherwise. I went to Milano’s on Houston St. (good date!), and the bar in the Trump building on Central Park South (turrrrrible date!), and everything in between. I went to a lot of weird parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
And then I found Charlie, and I got the job that made me feel like I belonged, and I moved to Brooklyn, Glorious Brooklyn, and I had two cats, and I paid too much for groceries, and I ate at incredible restaurants, and I learned how to drink bourbon, and I survived a hurricane, and I worked in Times Square, and I knew people, and I LIVED HERE.
And then, I didn’t.
Landing at LGA late Monday night, I stoneface glared past the “taxi, miss?” men, and I loved it. I turned off the TaxiTV before it started, and I loved it. I woke up to pouring rain on Tuesday and walked three blocks in it to buy a Duane Reade umbrella, and I loved it. I walked through Times Square at rush hour in the rain, and I loved it. I’m drinking delicious drip coffee, and I love it. I am passing people on the street playing loud shitty music from unidentified accessories strapped to their persons, and I love it. Restaurant service is expedient and friendly but not overly friendly, and everybody knows what I mean when I say “waah-der” and not “woh-tah,” and I love it. Garbage cans on the street EXIST, and I love them, and I love the four-foot radius of black sidewalk underneath them and the not-even-close confetti of paper plates from the pizza place extending beyond that.
I love walking down Morton Street at sundown and smelling shitty weed the whole way. I love getting hot-blasted in the face by stale subway air. I love the yellow-brown subway wallpaper by the doors on the NQR. I love sitting down in the middle seat on the subway and MOVING THAT MAN’S KNEE OVER TO HIS OWN DAMN PERSONAL SPACE with my knee. I love people with dogs at Bloomingdale’s. I love Bloomingdale’s.
I love the ridiculousness of Serendipity and Dylan’s Candy Bar, places I serendipitously wound up with friends on Tuesday afternoon. Only in New York do places like that get born. I love the LOFT in Times Square. I love fried food at overpriced Times Square bars.
I love, I love, I love Broadway. I love that I saw legends onstage and in two audiences yesterday. I love free Playbills. I love the squawking ladies from Long Island complaining about the bathroom lines, and I love the power gays flanking the tiny celebrities. I love earnest standing ovations, and I love breathing the outside air when the walls of doors open up after the show.
I love the bread. I love the baguettes and the bagels and the toast and the cookies and the english muffins and the sandwich breads and the burger buns and the crust on the fried chicken.
I love my friends. I love my brother. I love picking up exactly where we all left off, over our ice cream sundaes and bagels and fish tacos and BLTs and Brooklyn Lagers. I love their gossip and their new jobs and their old jobs and their friends I only know through their stories. I love that they listen. I love that they care.
I love filthy blocks and pushy assholes and idling trucks and kicked-over coffee cups. I love lost reading glasses and cold hostesses and unexplained smells. I love knowing which way is North.
I love this city, like I didn’t know I did, and like I didn’t know one earnestly could. And like only a New Yorker can, I hate having to admit that Billy Joel and Sex and the City were right about some things, but man, were they right.