In the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham a never named character resembling a camel/bird/dog hybrid repeatedly tells Sam I Am, "I do not like green eggs and ham." He doesn't like them in a box, he doesn't like them with a fox. He does not like them in a house, he doesn't like them with a mouse. He does not like them here or there, he doesn't like them anywhere. That is of course until he tries them. Turns out, he does like green eggs and ham, he really likes them, Sam I Am.
When you've been saying the same thing for so long, it's hard to know whether you say it because it's true or because it's what you've always said. For almost four years, I have been telling anyone who will listen that my life is in New York. My friends, my family, my favorite places, my heart, my very being, everything resides in the Big Apple. It's the rationale I give when begging my employer for a transfer and the answer I feed recruiters who look at my Michigan address and ask why New York. However, I'm starting to wonder if it's still true after searching in vain for that life the last time I was home. I looked, but it was nowhere to be found.
When I moved to the Midwest in 2002 to start my post collegiate life, I left behind my best friends, family, a nonstop social life, and a budding romance with the Idiot, before he made me cry. From the moment I stepped on the plane, I wanted to turn and run back. I wanted to dine at Dallas BBQs on 72nd Street with Chesty LaRue, or dance on a boat sailing through the Hudson with Flatty Girl, or catch a comedy show in the Village with Jailbait. I wanted my grandmother to give me twenty bucks for a Metro Card and an extra fifty just because. Most of all I wanted to be anywhere with the Idiot, to be with him in the city that I loved. I came home as often as possible, so as not to miss a moment of the life that I still considered to be mine. The thought of a birthday party, graduation, family gathering and the daily comings and goings occurring without me was almost unbearable. I thought I could hold all the moving parts together over hundreds of miles, until I came back to reclaim what was mine. I guess I stayed away too long. As much as I hate to admit that it's possible, life went on without me. People got older, grew up, and moved on, completely rearranging life as I knew it.
As I prepare to finally make the move back to New York, I'm struck by the fact that I won't be returning to the place I left. The landscape has changed dramatically. It started when I lost the Idiot three months after I moved. For a long time, that loss only fueled my need to come home. I was positive the distance tore us apart and convinced myself that moving back would put us back together again. It took me a long time to realize that while we probably ended prematurely, we would've ended regardless. Less than a year later, Chesty LaRue packed up and headed south of the Mason Dixon line, leaving me without one of the essential partners to my many crimes. Next, Mr. Wonderful moved across the Atlantic, leaving me without a convenient location to crash. Then Jailbait decided she was going to be all that she could be in the army just as she finally came of age to really enjoy the city with me. My living arrangements are one thing that haven’t changed. I can always go back to grandma’s house. Unfortunately, as of June 2005, I no longer have a grandmother to come home to. My beloved New York existence is slipping from my grasp piece by piece, replaced by unfamiliar people and places.
At 19 years old I started a love affair with New York City that rages to this day. The second I set foot in the city, all is right in my world. I am home. That feeling of home is one of the biggest reasons I want get a U-Haul and just go. Every other time I have moved, I’ve always had to start from scratch. New friends, new church, new places, new life. But NYC was supposed to be different. I always thought I could pick up right where I left off upon my return. That somehow someone had held my spot, and I could slip right back into my space. But that’s not reality. Reality is, I got up and lost my seat and when I do finally come back I will need to find a new one. The remaining vestiges of my New York life are quickly disappearing. College friends are heading out of state for grad school and even Flatty Girl is looking to make a transition. The Idiot is right where I left him, but it’s best to just leave him there once and for all.
New York City will always be the happiest place on earth in my eyes, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s still my home. Is force of habit keeping me attached to a city that’s no longer mine? If the New York City I knew and loved is vanishing before my eyes, what am I coming back to?