Earlier this summer, I moved out of New York this summer down to Durham, NC. Not that it should matter, the New Yorker in me feels compelled to let you know that I decided to leave New York well before COVID. In fact, I realized it was time to leave a little over a year ago, while laying in bed on a beautiful Sunday desperately catching up on sleep while my wife was at the beach for a vacation I had to bail on last minute for work. I was watching the Showtime mini-series "The Loudest Voice in the Room" and something about the tranquility of scenes set in Garrison (even with Roger Ailes as a resident) moved me to want to move somewhere more like that. At that moment I knew I was done. Fox News had brainwashed me into leaving New York.
I hope at this point, it's obvious this is not another "Why I left New York" post or "Why New York is Over" hot take. Instead it's an attempt at the semblance of an ode to the place I will forever call home. Often we can be so insecure with decisions we've made that we don't celebrate the positives about the choice we didn't choose, such as a person or place we've left behind. Sometimes we even denigrate them so as to be absolutely certain we made the right choice. Then we savagely drown and bury them under a sea of Instagram photos just so everyone is clear where we stand. You can't #LAvibes, #foodtruckfridays, or #bluebirdday New York, though. New York doesn't even have an Instagram account. It drunk texts you from a dive bar you've never heard of using T9 Word on beat up Motorola RAZR, and couldn't care less if you text it back. But you can't help yourself, can you?
This is my little celebration of New York on my second time leaving.
To live in New York is to survive. You battle people for the last spot on a train. There are weeks where you only see your apartment for the 6-8 hours you sleep there. You work hard to play hard, and you play hard because you work hard. When you make more money, it doesn't get easier, you merely move up to the next level to compete against a new set of assholes, and then level up and go do it again.It's awesome. Just like the cockroaches in your first 6th floor, 4 BR share, New York is full of survivors. Those who are staying put are seasoned vets and those who are moving in are some of the best lottery picks New York has gotten in years (unintentional Knicks joke), and I wouldn't bet against them. Trust the process.
Earlier this summer, during the week I was moving out I remember looking around and being awestruck by how beautiful it was to watch the city adapt to COVID in real time - like some alien organism destined to ruin the ending to James Altucher's next big work of masturbatory fan fiction, the long awaited sequel to his Newbury-award winning 2018 classic, Bitcoin Will Be worth $1M in 2020.
So far I've had two tours in New York with four years in between and nearly a decade in total. My first stint, I was lucky enough to live there for a brief period of time before smart phones were ubiquitous; and directories like Yelp, media outlets like Eater, Infatuation, and nobody was very online. During this time (and surely before it) there was some beautiful mystery to living there - like wandering around and going deeper in a network of caves, but with healthy pours and 99 cent pizzas. One night you would wander upon a magical dive bar somewhere in the LES with a few friends, have an amazing time and never find that place again - partly because you couldn't remember the name, but mostly because you had no idea where the hell you even were to begin with. While the aura of that mystery was mostly lost as iPhones, Uber, and Google Maps invaded our pockets, it also unlocked new neighborhoods to explore, giving you access to more of the amazing city, which I was lucky to be able to do during my second tour.
New York is a city that everyone should live in once. Nobody has to drive. You can get anywhere, do anything, and there's usually someone who is up to do it with you. In the rare case that you can't find anyone willing to hang out, then you can also just fly solo and sing really awful karaoke by yourself at 3am after getting off the subway, or so I hear. You are immersed in a sea humanity and you can choose to sink to the bottom at times and disappear or float on the top for a bit and get some time in the sun. Both are equally enjoyable and highly recommended.
On the multiplayer, multi-dimensional urban speed chess board that makes up the
four five boroughs (you only get one, Staten Island), your possible moves are endless and the pieces you can play as are infinite. It's the greatest game around, but there are other games to play as well. I left because I decided I want to play another one for now, and that's cool.
I'm sure one day I'll be back on the hyper chess board. I'll be playing once again as a badass New York knight that looks like a pawn, moves like a queen, and wants to live like a king; a New Yorker.
Until then, I'm going to mess around as a Durham Bull for a while.