Goodbye to All This

Maciek Lulko (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I drove our rented Ford Expedition onto Lorimer Street in Williamsburg two years ago, hoping to be able to drop some of our stuff off at my friend Diego’s apartment. These were the sorts of things, or compromises, you had to make when you moved to a place like New York City, the city of dreams.

These sorts of concessions are commonplace in a city like this, where a trip to the subway may mean walking into a steamy tunnel and walking into a empty car, only to find out after the doors have closed that a homeless man sleeps and vomits on the other end.

It is a place where people aren’t concerned with your “personal space,” a figment of your own bourgeoisie-ness. Space is for those people, the ones who probably vote for their taxes to go down. In other words, if you thought that you were going to be the only one at that Chipotle table, you played yourself.

It is a place where your elevator reeks of piss, and you get letters from the electric company which said that it will cut your lights because the front office didn’t pay the building’s electric bill. Wait, you think; we did pay our apartment’s bill. Then you realize the fat HOA bill that your landlord pays out of your rent isn’t going to the electric bill, or updating the elevator, which has stayed the same since 1992. Who knows where it goes? It is a place where residents wonder a lot where the money for different institutions goes. Oh, and you pay a lot of money to stay in this building, in this neighborhood, and fork over tons in income taxes.

But you do it, because this is the city.

Not many people can say that they’ve lived in New York. Not many married couples, such as my wife and I, can say they’ve moved to Brooklyn. City living becomes worth it when you walk along the promenade and see the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance, with the sun setting overhead. It becomes worth it when you walk in Prospect Park and see the leaves change colors as fall brings death to the foliage. Folks break out their sweaters, covering their tanned skin from the long, hot summer, and you think, “life is sweet.”

When I first moved here, I had virtually no experience in journalism. I took an unpaid internship at a photography and culture magazine in Brooklyn, getting coffee, distributing issues to local businesses and doing blog posts. I wrote for free anywhere I could. I did another internship, thankfully paid, at Medical Daily, which is a health website. I needed any experience I could get, right?

But my writing career really took off when I got a job at a Jewish news website called JP Updates, where I covered primarily local politics. I got to speak to members of Congress, New York State Senators, New York City Councilmembers, and Assemblymembers. The most interesting part was covering the 2016 presidential election, which led to me being able to attend the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

When moving here, there is a lie that you believe, and perhaps, for me, a lie I had to believe, in order to get out of Florida. That lie is that New York is the only place you can live to be enculturated; to join the intelligentsia; to be free from the conservatism that rules back home. You learn that this is a lie once you live somewhere else. Anyone who has studied history knows that human nature — in whatever way you define it — has been human nature beyond time and space. New York has major sins, just like Miami does.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time here. In her essay, “Goodbye to All That,” Joan Didion wrote that her time in New York was happier when she didn’t know the names of all of the bridges. Back when she was younger, she vibrantly invited others to see “new faces” at parties, and to pass the night going along in the town from bar to bar, seeking new adventures.

But by twenty-eight, she could no longer bear it. She couldn’t walk along Times Square, or shop with the Upper Madison Avenue residents who shopped at Gristedes.

“Everything that was said to me I seemed to have heard before, and I could no longer listen,” Didion wrote.

That doesn’t happen to be my experience. It’s possible that I haven’t stayed long enough. But I’ve loved my time here, especially since my twin brother and his wife moved to Brooklyn, along with two of my best friends who live in Harlem. I have my people.

But just because I love it doesn’t mean that my time here shouldn’t end, and just because my time ends, doesn’t mean my adventure does. That’s something I had to learn by leaving. There’s beauty to be found in places like South Florida. Even more so, there is culture to be created there. New York doesn’t have the monopoly on it. After two years of being here, my time in the city is coming to a close. I will be moving to Fort Lauderdale in October, taking all that I’ve learned from this city and hoping I can be part of what’s already happening in South Florida.