The text came through on my phone somewhere between two and three in the morning on Wednesday. It was my first love Timothy. He wanted me to know that he was leaving New York City:
“Sorry darling, I’m just a li’l over it. I need to make art and record records and help or show the south how to speak proper English, if I decide to leave my house.”
I placed my hand on my stomach first as if to stop the impending nausea before it started. When I was sure I wasn’t going to be sick, I put my right hand on my chest and felt for proof of life. My heart was still beating, although I didn’t expect it to be so after reading that sentence. Who leaves New York City? Where do people go? In Timothy’s case, it’s Chattanooga.
“New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I was 12 the first time I came to New York City. My sister and I came with my grandmother for the weekend. It was December. We saw the tree in Rockefeller, watched the Rockettes kick in unison during the Christmas Spectacular and tragically, stayed on the other side of the Hudson River in New Jersey. My knowledge then was based on too much Fitzgerald, movies that had New York as its backdrop and the Beatnik era as I was going through my Kerouac and Ginsberg phase.
On our second day we took a bus tour through Greenwich Village and I remember thinking to myself: This is it. This is where I want to be when I grow up. When the bus stopped, we all piled off single file and straight for the postcard rack of the closest bodega I ran. I picked out one postcard of the city that would eventually be my home, placed it in my bag and tacked it to my bedroom wall when we arrived back to New Hampshire. That postcard is still on the wall to this day — I don’t need it anymore.
”If there were one city I should pick to live in, it would be New York. It is a city where I walk down the street and feel anything is possible.” – Maria Schell
I lacked the necessary gumption to come to New York for college. I didn’t even bother applying to NYU’s Creative Writing program because I knew I’d never muster the balls to get here. To stand in the midst of the neighborhood that I’d been viewing through a postcard was not something for which I was ready. I went to school in New Hampshire instead.
I learned how to love in those small New England towns. I played in the rivers, drank cheap beer in the woods, fucked in the backseats of cars and the whole time immersed myself in the writers and artists who had dreamed of New York City, just as I did, and eventually made it there to love more intensely, grow exponentially and live excessively. If I were going to fall from grace, I wanted to fall on the sidewalks of New York City — and eventually I would.
“A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe and 50 times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.” – Le Corbusier