Tag Archives | good bye

if i can make it there, i’ll make it anywhere

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh yes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company. . . .

Here is New York by E.B. White

You’ll have to bear with me on this one. I am at a loss. How to give voice to all that I experienced in the 4+ years I lived in this city?

I came here–it’s true!–on a whim. I was impetuous and lonely and romantic and needed desperately to be Elsewhere. Isn’t that why we all come here, in one way or another? I had one backpack–a red jansport–filled with clothes and a book or two, and $100 to my name. In cash. I am a living, breathing fairy-tale.The largeness of it all! The wonderment of the cross town buses–I’m not lying. I would slide into a window seat and stare at my own reflection in the dark windows made greenish by the fluorescent lights inside and orangeish from the street lights outside. Cruising through the dark mysteries of Central Park after a closing shift at the vegetarian restaurant I worked in on the Upper East Side.

I am too overwhelmed now to properly answer the question “what will you most miss?” which is the question people are most often curious about. I can only say with certainty that it will likely be the small things. Sitting on the stoop of my first apartment for hours and hours. The quiet, magical walk along Astoria Park after sunset. The trick of knowing exactly which subway car to ride in to a) have the best chance of getting a seat, or b) get off directly in front of my exit. That the wonderment of walking past Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral every morning on my way to work quickly wore off, only to reignite itself more fervently than ever on some unobtrusive morning when the light sparkled just right or the rain held off until I made it inside and the pearly grey clouds reflected beautifully in all the windows. The N train and everything about it. Gramercy Park, which I only ever loved because it looks and feels exactly like Boston. Being called “sweetheart” by every doorman in the city. The rhythm and hum of the city itself.

So, here’s a little snippet of the folksinger at 18. She just moved to New York and she’s had her mouth hanging open for about three days. I remember vividly the whole learning process and the prostitutes that were working the little cobblestone street below my window… it was like, ‘No Ani, those are not women. They look a lot like women but…’ And I was like, ‘Wow…They’re purty!’ And then, and then, and I was like–so, um? There was this deck off of–well it was kind of a roof, really, as, you know, patios in New York are. They’re the roofs of other buildings. And there was chalk outlines of bodies on mine. So I inquired about them one day and they said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, I think maybe they were a joke…’

–Ani Difranco

Last night–our last in the city–David and I went to Korea Town, which is where we had our first date. After dinner we got frozen yogurt from Red Mango and sat at a little metal table in the middle of Herald Square. There was a small leafy tree overhead, blocking out some–but not all–of the headlights, street lights, and neon signs in and along the street. “I think,” said David. “That this is the first and last time I’ve ever enjoyed listening to taxis.”

I will miss so much. So much about this city and this life. So many people. But this morning, I’m off on the greatest adventure of my life. And I absolutely can’t wait.

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Love.

Posted by on September 27, 2009 in Personal

bad days and bye bye brooklyn

I am having one of those days. I had a terrible night’s sleep after being devoured by strange bugs that left David entirely alone and only came after me. I slept a lot later than I had planned to, stubbed my toe, had multiple impossible knots in my hair, my iPod was dying, I discovered that my camera battery REFUSED to charge overnight like I told it to (the first picture in this post was taken by me, the other two are courtesy of David’s iPhone!), and just generally had a rotten morning. David was on hand with lots of hugs, though, and I put on my bravest face because today we went to say goodbye to Brooklyn.

I have lived in Queens for the majority of my time here in New York. I had brief stints on the Upper East side, the Upper West side, and a ridiculous stay in Washington Heights (long before the musical came out) where I befriended a drug dealer named Seven who nicknamed me “Snow White” because I was “the only white girl in the heights” and who made sure that no one gave me a hard time or followed me to my apartment from the subway late at night when I got home after closing down the restaurant where I worked at the time. Ah, memories.

So once I moved to Astoria and was, for the first time, a financially independent adult and had a bedroom with an actual door that I could open and close at will (seriously, I will never ever take doors for granted again. You wouldn’t either if you’d ever lived for any length of time without one!) I fell in love with Queens and I fell hard. So of course I inherited a prejudice against Brooklyn from the start.

Now, this totally irrational bias was supported a little bit by my first excursions to Brooklyn, which almost entirely consisted of hipster warehouse parties in Williamsburg or Bed-Stuy thrown by people I didn’t know and didn’t want to know. Often I was dragged there by guys who refused to let me leave the party when I wanted to (immediately) because it was too dangerous for me to walk to the subway alone in the middle of the night and they just wanted to have “one more beer.” Sitting on some roof in the middle of Bed-Stuy with a bunch of entitled trust-fund hipsters, listening to them talk about the deep personal meaning behind their latest tattoo while they sip on Pilsner or Jim Beam on ice and blow smoke in my face as the five kids who had earlier done coke in bathroom were dancing around in the background to the sounds of all the car alarms going off down on the street was just not my idea of a good time. Sorry.

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But then I met David. And he was definitely cute enough for me to overlook (not quietly or anything, but still) that fact that he lived in The Worst Borough Of Them All. In fact, when I went to visit his apartment in Prospect Heights I had to admit that his particular part of Brooklyn was actually sort of lovely. For a year we spent most of our time there. We went to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum and ate at a dozen sweet little cafés and Brooklyn grew on me more and more, until I was grudgingly forced to admit that yes, maybe I did sort of love it.Parts of it. Maybe.

But then David’s lease was up and after a frantic, unfulfilling apartment hunt he moved to Queens. Sadly, it has to be said that he never really warmed to it the way I did to Brooklyn (parts of it. Maybe). So when we decided to move to Minnesota we both knew that we’d have to go back to Brooklyn and say goodbye. I’ve never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and knew I had to do it before I left the city. David’s walked it many times, but he’s the best ever so he agreed to walk it with me. But first, we had to have sustenance. We had to have brunch. We had to have… Tom’s.

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Tom’s is a diner in Brooklyn. It’s open from 4am to 4pm Monday through Saturday. The lines are usually so long that they wrap around the corner, and while you stand there (or sit there–they kindly set out plastic chairs for you to rest in while you bide your time) waiters come around with coffee, sausages, orange slices, cookies, and other delicious goodies for you to munch on while you wait…free of charge. It’s WONDERFUL. You’re pretty much full before you even get inside.

Getting inside is worth it, though, because Tom’s is a true sensory overload. Every inch of wall space is covered with framed reviews, photographs, paintings, fake flowers, neon posterboard highlighting popular menu items, and christmas lights everywhere.

After an amazing brunch (David: fresh crab cakes with chipotle mayo, two eggs sunny-side up, home fries, smoked beef sausage, wheat toast, and coffee. Me: Challah bread french toast with strawberry butter, side of bacon, coffee, and a slightly over-rated vanilla egg cream) we were ready to take the trek across the Brooklyn bridge.

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I don’t really know what to say about it. It was raining–misting, really–and a little cloudy. There was a fantastic breeze up at the top, and if you looked closely you could see through the wooden slats at your feet and watch the cars as they zipped beneath you. The top of the Empire State Building was hidden in the fog, but we could just make out the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Seeing all of the city at once like that made me feel very close to it. David indulged me and snapped a few touristy pictures (I am very sunburnt! David’s eyes may or may not be closed!), and before we knew it we were in Manhattan.

I’ve spent the evening drinking long vodkas and making The Pioneer Woman’s individual raspberry cobblers (TOTAL disaster, but still super tasty!) Recipes and pictures tomorrow, but for now I’m going to pour myself another drink and thank David once again for hugging my bad mood away, teaching me to love Brooklyn, and just generally always being the best.

Posted by on August 29, 2009 in Personal