Dear New York, I Left You (& Then I Came Back)

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This past weekend, I went away. I almost forgot how lovely & serene other places are. New York, you have this habit of sucking people in & then caging them like prisoners. It’s almost as though I forgot other places exist.

While not in you, I visited Cape Cod & Boston. I discovered my favorite place, a beach full of rock surrounded by dunes. No one was there—it was both isolating & beautiful at the same time. It was strange not hearing any white noise or seeing smog in the air. 

Part of me wants to run away to the mountains for good, but another part of me would miss the corner delis, busy traffic, & city skyline. I contain multitudes, I am full of contradictions. 

To be a poet is not my ambition, it’s my way of being alone.

Dear New York

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of poems in transit. N, D, G, R, & 7 trains are usually where it’s at. 

It is now autumn, which means I am back to leather-jackets & blazers. This makes me happy. 

In two months, I will turn 25. It seems like I should have been 25 three years ago. I’m excited for it, but also somewhat indifferent. Age is a number. Life happens regardless of that number.

I can honestly say I am proud to be where I am right now; I have loved & lost in every minute of those years. I failed. I succeeded. They have been well lived thus far. I refuse to give up on my dreams & goals, some of which are works in progress. I am a work in progress, always. 

So far, in my 24th year, I have moved to Brooklyn, started working at my current full-time job, graduated from my MFA program, started writing for Luna Luna Magazine, had poems published, directed a poetry festival, met T, fell in love, & learned that happiness is a choice.

When 25 does hit, I will still be inside you, New York, probably somewhere in Brooklyn raising a glass. I want this year to be full of love, because I have even more of it to give. 

Dear New York, I love you

Twelve years ago, I was twelve. I was attending a Catholic elementary school in Scarsdale, New York, about twenty-five minutes north of New York City. I remember enjoying the smell of my newly-bought school supplies, still nervous about being the new girl. At twelve-years-old, I had no concept of terrorism. I barely ever heard the word used.

As I piled into history class with people I didn’t know, the radio was on loud. Everyone sat down and looked around the room—we assumed this was a tape from a previous war. Our teacher looked stone-faced, out the window at first, then back to us. After a few minutes, everyone knew. This was not an old tape, this was live news.

Most of us were lucky. We did not smell the smoke, we did not see people jump from the Twin Towers. We were sitting comfortably in an air-conditioned classroom miles away from disaster. My mind immediately turned to my father—at the time, he had been working on a construction project in the city. I had no idea if he would be able to come home across the bridge.

I remember the school closed at 11:30 am—my father and mother were waiting for me in the parking lot. I still don’t know how he managed to drive home so quickly. While I heard what happened, I still did not understand why. How could people from so far away hate us so much?

In the next few weeks, families in black clothes swarmed the church parking lot. A few parents of current students had died—everyone in my class would watch in silence. No one in my family or close friends had died. I never cried about all the people who were in the towers. I didn’t know how.

At twenty-four, I now live in Brooklyn. I have chosen to stay in New York City, not because it is cheaper, easier, or even safer, but because I love it. I love it freely, passionately, and even begrudgingly at times. It is not an easy place to live, but as with all things someone loves, you make it work, because you believe in it. I still haven’t cried about 9/11, but I know one day, I will. 

Dear New York

Sometimes I forget how many places I go inside you. In a week, it feels as though I’ve been everywhere, that I know you in your loneliest places. It’s easy to get frustrated on an overcrowded 6 train on my way to work. It’s hard not to be upset when the R takes fifteen minutes to come when I’m running late to T’s apartment.

This past week, these are the parts of you I’ve made sure not to miss:

I took the N to Coney & listened to reggae. I smiled in the sun with DB & M & T & the most playful French bulldog named Lola. I let the ocean touch my waist.

I laughed in Otto’s Shrunken Head with D & T. 

Many hours are gone riding the G from Greenpoint to the R in Sunset Park.

I ate at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Union Square & almost cried in their bathroom from exhaustion.

In Eisenbergs on 22nd & 5th, I discovered tuna melts should only be eaten on rye bread.

Sometimes I really don’t like you, New York, when I feel as though you’ll be too expensive for my future. Then I remember most of my dearest friends & family are here, and if I moved, I would lose whatever I have left of my heart. I can’t lose that, not even in your loneliest places.