digressions: New York never loved me
Now that we’re on the subject of New York City, I thought I might point out that every city I’ve lived in has felt like a romantic relationship. I’m not sure exactly why cities remind me of women, but there’s something irresistible about the idea.
Eugene, OR, was a smart and down-to-earth gal, happy to just sit on the couch and take bong rips while drinking micro brews and watching March Madness. She was comfortable to be around; you were almost content enough to miss out on life all together. San Francisco was a wild-eyed maniac, always pushing the envelop; the kind of girl who shows up at your window in the middle of the night because she just got a pair of new red pumps and she wants to trash them in the Tenderloin. New Orleans, I recall, was like being in love with a ghost: ephemeral, ancient, hedonistic and wise. She’d lean down over a balcony with a handkerchief, give you a knowing look, then disappear into her tomb, where you would gladly follow her if you were only so lucky. LA…well, it’s hard to tell what was real with her and what wasn’t, though I’d wager that most all she told me was a lie, even when it was true.
But New York City was different. She was everything from uber glamorous to dirt-poor. She’d wear diamonds on Tuesdays and go slumming it with the weary folk on Thursdays, and she never really cared for me, or anyone. She never slept, she never called when she said she would; she’d leave you high and dry and piss you off to the point where you were going to leave her, then, at the last second, crawl into bed with you and promise she was yours and yours alone. She only gave you enough to not leave her; nothing more. She had grown up hearing that she was the greatest city in the whole world and it affected her. This kind of arrogance said, “You’ll never find another as good as me.” In some ways, she was right.
But I know she was just as insecure as the rest of us. It took me years to figure it out; that she was just a spoiled child who will outlive us all. After the better part of a decade of dead ends, always teetering on the edge of grand success and grim, terrible failure—of one-night stands, terrible winters, scorching summers; getting packed into subway cars like rats; all of the honking yellow cabs, like pissed off yellow jackets in a rainstorm. . . well, I realized that I was leaving her with less than I started. It was like going through a revolving door and coming out seven years older, with no money, a bunch of phone numbers I’d never call, a mile-long list of pissed off ex girlfriends, scars from punching walls, debtors jamming writs under my door at odd hours, and probably some kind of STD they don’t even have a name for yet.
And so I got in my truck and went west, knowing that it was the right thing to do— but still feeling as if I was making a terrible mistake, leaving the hottest girl at the party for someone more pure of heart that may, in the end, only bore me.
I’d like to say she cared for me. I’d like to say I never looked back. But that would be a lie. New York, New York: you will always haunt me.
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