On my first visit to the Empire State building, my 14 year old self got caught making out with a boy by the chaperone of a school trip. Lured by the lights and the height and the throbbing energy that is New York, I’d fallen in a strange kind of love. Not with the boy, but with the constant stream of taxi cabs, the gritty store fronts, and the flow of all those people. All these years later, I was not at all surprised to feel the same way, looking down at the city from the top, lights pulsing and glittering and calling my heart in that strange way. This time I was way up there with the best of friends, who knew the exact best place for me to say goodbye to New York.
Since that first visit as a kid, I’ve managed to come back several times. After an incredible New Year in 2009, capped off with late night escargot and toasting the neighbors across the breezeway, I found myself madly, deeply in love with the city and vowed to come back. Which I did, in 2012, for nearly an entire summer. That year I found a long lost cousin and my Brooklyn roots, forged a kinship over frog legs, and was taught what true friendship is. Now recently I bookended my trip to Spain with quality New York time that quite honestly broke my heart.
I left the city yesterday with a sinking feeling that I was making a mistake. My heart beat matched my foot steps while walking to the subway in the upper East side for the last foreseeable time, trying to ignore this strange call to stay just one more day. Something inside, like an invisible line, is tugging me along, first down the street to the subway now along the highway, heading west. It’s hard not to miss New York when sitting in a Motel 6 watching Antiques Roadshow, but the thing is while my gut tells me to go west, my heart stays in the city. I had a top secret wish to stay there, which is why I drove out in the first place, hoping I could make things work after returning from Spain, but that invisible gut tug was strong enough to pull me up and out of that parallel dream universe land. It feels good that I’m in a place of being able to trust my own gut tugs, but it can be hard when life leads you away from where you thought you’d go.
It’s hard to leave a moon rising between buildings from the rooftop at the Met, or 2 am Irish coffees at Finnegan’s Wake, or free day at the MoMA to count the number of people taking close up pictures of sculptures. And there are all those intimate conversations that happen on the subway or on the street that you can’t help but eavesdrop on and that instantly make you realize just how human we all are. And what about cookies in Central Park, and walking fifty blocks before noon, and coffee in the rain? It’s not an easy place to walk away from.
But somehow, inexplicably, the time isn’t right for this top secret dream wish to come true. So, west.