Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye to All That. Again.

I took a train from one end of New York to the other last week, starting in the west and working my way towards a city I hadn't seen in 9 months.  For me, trains evoke something romantic and sad, so it was the ideal form of transportation to get to this place I've left and since put on a pedestal.

The fact that the city can still smell so strongly of urine after all those days was a weird comfort to me.  It changes all the time and I was so relieved that, of course, it hadn't changed at all.  A favorite restaurant on Bowery had closed, but I knew that, from my obsessive NY news stalking.  Since moving away, I keep all the local news outlets in my social feeds, to feel any tremor or vibration of the life of that place from afar.

Once, in college, my high school boyfriend made a visit to my campus during his fall break.  I was eager to see him, to see if our breakup was the right choice after all, to see how he'd grown without me, for him to recognize that I was doing well without him.  I am sure I fidgeted with my outfit, nervously provided all the necessary background information to my roommate, changed my shoes a few times.
It was great to sit in the sun by my dorm for a little bit, introduce him to my new friends, see him in a new light  and enjoy his company.
It was also clear, that despite a hint of his lingering interest, we were a sealed enveloped. All of his pencil drawings of small monsters, the notes we'd leave on one another's windshields in the student parking lot, both our junior and senior prom photos - it was all in that envelope, and time had taped it shut and it was just better that way.  But it was still nice to sit by him to remember it all.

You can see where I'm going with this.

Being back felt like I had never left the best version of it. The weather was unfairly perfect, all of my friends’ apartments impossibly cool. I spent afternoons on rooftops overlooking Central Park, mornings walking through Chelsea to get doughnuts. I worked from a coffee shop in Fort Greene, cheered for the USA’s world cup chances in Williamsburg, and spent 7 hours drinking wine with an adoptive book club in Park Slope. It was like everything was conspiring to break my heart for leaving.
I’d never lived there as an artist, but finally got it, in my joints, in my tendons, in my blood pumping veins, what it means to pursue art in a place that full of energy and story. Every sign, every face, every menu - each stroke of graffiti and conversation overhead. I wanted to make stuff and learn. I wanted to sit and absorb. And then I wanted to push it of me, with my own mark on it.
Part of me wishes I’d given myself that chance, to create a life of creating there. The other parts of me know I was not convinced nor dedicated enough to this cause until I left. I still don’t even believe I’d be able to make it there, doing what I do now. I’d be distracted, discouraged, dismissed.
It all worked out. It’s all working out. And I can always go back for perfect visits with my perfect friends. 
I just wish it was a shorter train ride from Texas.

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