Dear New York,
I don’t think I’ve fallen for you this hard since ’95 when I was a sheltered suburban high school senior visiting Barnard for Prospective Students of Color Weekend. I remember being led on a tour of the East Village by an eager Barnard freshman and being enraptured with your infectious energy and persistent beat. I was convinced you were the one for me and happily signed up to spend my next four years with you.
It wasn’t long before I became jaded with your expensive, overcrowded and exhausting self. I wished for a new home, where I wouldn’t feel so cramped and wearied by your relentless drive. I thought about prettier locales like San Francisco where greener pastures lay, but the economy ultimately decided for me that I was stuck with you. I finally managed to escape you for three years when I left for India and Atlanta. Sometimes I was nostalgic for you, especially your charm during the holidays and your invigorating spring season when everything is filled with promise. But it wasn’t enough to draw me back to you.
The next time you caught my attention was in the spring of ’05 when I was desperately trying to escape the homogeneity and blandness of Atlanta for a weekend. I remember walking your streets that April weekend feeling alive and happy and drinking in your diversity and history. But only a year or two later, it was again over. I became resigned to the idea that I would never feel that magic with you again.
This time around my love for you grew slowly and took even me by surprise. For the first time in years I found myself enjoying your unbearable summer heat. I treated myself to an adorable space for the summer and allowed my inner geek to flourish by spending hours every week in my favorite local bookstore and exploring whole new neighborhoods solo. I appreciated the freedom, space and safety in the simple pleasures of taking a walk, solo, in my neighborhood at 10 o’clock at night.
Maybe it was me that changed this time, not you. I finally had the perfect balance of time and money, something that was elusive before with always too much of one and not enough of the other. After traveling the world and making other places my temporary home, I finally learned to appreciate what I used to think were your cramped spaces and relentless drive, but is actually your way of forming a vibrant and creative community.
So many odes have been written about you that perfectly captured your essence. This is the first time I ever felt compelled to write my own, on my last night in Brooklyn. I feel a deep sadness to be leaving you, but know that I will be back again to rekindle our relationship. No matter how many times I’ve tried, I can’t rid myself of you.
Thank you, New York, for always being there for me.