Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Homecoming

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?

13 comments:

Chesty Larue a.k.a. rebelioness said...

Giiiiiiiiiiirl! You ain't said nothing but a word. You KNOW I'm there with you as far as NYC being the best place on God's green earth, and, as a result my relocation to ATL in the summer of '04 was supposed to be temporary--to save money and spend time with family. That winter I applied to mostly NYC law schools with the express intent of coming back home. Besides the fact that I got rejected at all 4 NYC schools I applied to, turning in the apartment I'd lived in for nearly 20 years in August of '05 made the prospect of coming back home that much more distant. Would I ever get back? Now that I'm heading to the Windy City for 3 years of the Socratic Method, I wonder if I'll ever be a NYC resident again. Studies show most students stay in the city they matriculate in. While I haven't given up hope, I, too, don't know what I'd be coming to if/when I ever return...it's quite scary to say the least.

Cece said...

I asked myself the other day if I was "romanticizing" the city. Making it out to be more than it was, but I wasn’t; it’s everything I think it is and more. Mostly we think about the memories and the friends and how they tie in. But the city is still there and if anything else is different at least you have the comfort of knowing the actual city is the same. What missing in most other places, I think is the hope of how great life can become in NY. I’m in Providence, RI with no subway system and buses that stop after 7pm and sometimes come once every hour. Even the museums close at 5. What the?? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again NY is my first love. It’s in my blood, its where I belong and even if everyone I loved moved away I’d be comforted by bodegas and 1.00 hotdogs with mustard and saucy onions mmm…. Check out my post in December My first love

PS. Sorry for the book and no I’m not ignoring your email I just don’t know how to answer…. More importantly I don’t know the answer.

gr8gatsby said...

I think the same about London. But I've always had a love/hate relationship with this city. I was born here. I grew up here. But when I'm in London, I want to be travelling around the world. When I'm somewhere else, I wanna be back here. I wouldn't change anything about London -- except the congestion charge!

K said...

First off, when you get here we're having a drink at 40/40--I've always wanted to go there!

Secondly, nice post. You are a great writer.

EnCloset said...

It could be a whole new NY for you when/if you come back.

For me, the physical place is merely a location (it sounds like that with you too).

Your attachment to NY seemed brimming full of good memories...

More to come, regardless of where you be.

Be safe.

CrankyProf said...

Just asking yourself that last question is a good place to start -=- are you sabotaging new places and possibilities to go "home" to a place that may not be home anymore?

I don't know those answers for you, but....good luck.

Lynn said...

Sometimes we need to reaccess our dreams. NOt that you need to in this case, but sometimes you outgrow things, even ambitions.

Sober In the City said...

Can there be two of us in the same city?

When you get here, I want to meet you and K at 40/40 and download a little wisdom. I somehow think NY will be a little better with you in it.

Great post! You continue to mirror my thinking. It's scary.

Sober In the City said...

p.s. New York doesn't change, The world doesn't change, the men don't change... WE change. We react differently, see things in a different way.

Although I love you literary musings about the uhaul and I can identify with your fears, New York is a special place. It's always evolving and I am always turning corners, meeting new people, discovering new places to take my morning coffee.

You will find your way. A new way. And that's the best part.

Welcome home!

tall glass of vino said...

"Reality is, I got up and lost my seat and when I do finally come back I will need to find a new one."

Perfect analogy. My sentimental connection to Portland, Oregon after moving to SF was very similar - and it just tore me apart to visit on weekends and see how the city was moving on without me. Like watching an Ex strolling down the sidewalk with another girl.

I've lived a dozen different places, and when I was younger I embraced the challenges with gusto. Less so now that I'm older, and WANT to feel settled somewhere - preferably in my own skin, but in one city is a good substitute.

Still working on both.

Jailbait said...

Girl, I would give my right arm to live in NYC right now! The Army tricked me...Germany AIN'T all that!

Elizabeth said...

Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. The City gets into your blood, under your skin and inside your soul, and never leaves no matter where you live.

FLS said...

Man...New York City... the milennium crack. Can't get enough.

I wonder if I'll ever be a New Yorker again, I don't think I was ready to leave. London is cool but I miss New York. Can't afford either of these cities so I may be moving down south next year. Sometimes it gets really depressing Friends, Frat, Family, etc all in New York.

Yo I've been away for a few weeks but I just wanted to say that you writing is dope kid. I'm in awe at some of this shit. Keep it up.

Thanks for the shout out and I'll give you a call later in the week.

-J