I don’t actually want to leave New York. I did that already—I ran away, an explosion behind me it felt like, propelling me to Portland (the one in Oregon) and then another 28,000 miles all around the country, becoming more and more convinced we as a nation are completely fucked. It was a whole thing.
It felt weird to cry a little bit coming back over the Triboro Bridge for good. I had a college boyfriend I’d visited in New York in I think the spring of 2007 and didn’t much like it then; a summer internship didn’t convince me otherwise. But this was where the magazine jobs were (lol), so I moved here in 2008 and did my best not to hate everything about it. I lived in a neighborhood that reminded me of Chicago, with elevated train tracks and everything.
The place sort of grew on me, a benign tumor you could call it, year after year as my life became more and less bearable depending on a whole bunch of factors. When I came back, crying a little bit (just a little) over the Triboro, I told myself it would be for good. I’d certainly not found a place that was any more bearable, not in a single one of those 28,000 miles. Nothing could induce me to leave the place I’d decided was home.
One of the annoying things about TV writing is that you need to move to Los Angeles if you’re serious about it, at least for a little while. So I decided even before I met and fell in love with someone with a similar goal that I’d have to just deal with a move I didn’t really want to make, like I’d done 12 years ago. Didn’t mean I wasn’t dreading it, or that I’m no longer dreading it, but the nice thing now is that I’ll have someone to split the cost with and also we can bitch at each other about things like “traffic.”
Most of my good friends left this place years ago, because it’s objectively silly to want to live here. You could live in a palace in the dang middle of downtown Milwaukee for half of what a 500-square-foot 2-bedroom in Astoria now costs. Drivers here are constantly trying to murder you. Good luck trying to get from Queens to Brooklyn on a weekend.
But this is my home. I know every inch of my neighborhood and most of the surrounding ones. I never feel like ambulatory blight for simply walking around. I know the right place to go for produce, for meat, for arepas. If I want a banana chocolate shake at 10 p.m., I know where to get that, too. The weight of 12 years in this place doesn’t press down on me, it cocoons me, warm and comforting.