I’ve begun to count. To measure what is left. Six weeks. 84 subway rides (give or take a few). Four flat boxes beneath my bed.
I’m trying not to count what is behind me. Trying not to score the time I now fear I wasted, careful not to assign a numerical value to the heartache--or worry that there exists some set point for loneliness that once the body adjusts to it never recovers. Sometimes, sitting on the subway, I wonder if everyone can see it; I worry more that they can’t.
Six weeks. 84 subway rides. Four flat boxes. Twelve glasses of white wine, one flute of champagne, still to go.
I moved here at eighteen, I’ve never known a day of my adult life anywhere else.
I’ve come to learn that when you tell people you are leaving New York they sort of cock their head and get this very particular look on their face. Their response has almost nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. New York: the great what-if for so many--an idea, and not a city.
But after nearly thirteen years this is what I can tell you: she is messy and frustrating and overcrowded and in need of some urgent repairs, but she’s magic, too. And she is straining under the weight of what everyone presupposes her to be.
In six weeks time I will leave, and I will not look back. I will give thanks for these thirteen years, but my body yearns for mountains and trees and the green hills of somewhere farther south. Finally, there is a reason to leave.
I will not say goodbye. Not because I plan to return, but because New York and I never belonged to one another, not really. Both of us just trying to shake off what we were supposed to be, for who we actually are.
But change, however much longed for, still carries a loss.
And so I am trying to let what hurts, hurt.
*The title to Joan Didion's perfect essay on leaving New York.