I woke up this morning in, what I realized too late, is my very favorite place in the entire world. I’m actually still here. I have to soak it up, because I’m here for the last time.
I’m in the middle of my bed, snuggled in between my husband, who’s arm is tucked under mine like a teddy bear, and Maeby, who has been grunting lately when she doesn’t get her way. She just let out an expressive groan when I dove (gently) under her belly to find my cell phone so I could capture this moment with words. Technically, there’s a baby in the middle with me too. He’s doing little flips in my tummy as we speak.
The four of us are tucked in “The Teacup,” which is what we call our tiny apartment. We have curtains and a bedspread that look like the paintings on a delicate mug. Our bed is literally wall-to-wall. We can’t get out of the side of our bed, we have to crawl to the bottom, which has been increasingly harder as little boy in my tummy has been getting big enough to do more and more flips.
The Teacup is in the middle of the Upperwest side, which isn’t quite in the middle of New York City, but it’s in the middle ish. Our apartment hugs the Hudson River. We’re in between three Jewish synagogues and a Jewish school for children. There’s a Banana Republic on the corner.
Last night I was in the 6th Police Precinct on Hudson Street. Someone had found my wallet on the street (it must have fallen out of my pocket after I went to buy Tums), and some average New Yorker delivered it safely to the police department, where they carefully dissected its contents, looking for clues to my identity. When I got there to pick it up, the best way to verify that the wallet was mine was that I could accurately tell them about the red credit card with teeth holes in it from when Maeby had gotten a little hungry.
Last week, I sat in the middle of Relief Society , in the middle of a church in the middle of Lincoln Square, which is maybe a little closer to the middle of New York, and I finally felt the oneness, the centered feeling of wholeness you’re supposed to feel inside a church. I felt the chapter end. I saw the book close.
I’m leaving New York. I’m a long sentence user, but the weight and gravity of this sentence’s impact can not be mitigated. It can’t be cushioned. It hits like a blow, like four curt words and a decisive period.
I’m leaving New York.
It’s a city I think that makes everyone feel, to some degree, that we are in the middle of the human experience, that we are at the intersection of life and culture, and love and happiness, of devastation and despair. This city doesn’t shield you from the evils that come with being in the middle of it. You see with your own eyes the racism, and the poverty, and the selfishness, and the vanity.
And then someone turns in your wallet to a police station when it’s 17 degrees outside. And you see that too. You’re at the cusp of humanity in all its variations. It feels like you’re dead center of the human experience, but that you’re sharing that feeling with 8 million other people.
It’s that feeling of sharing that I love so much about New York. On the street you learn to share the discomfort of politics, of poverty, and privilege. At church you share hurt and healing. In your neighborhood, you share the park and details about your dog chewing up your credit card. You share the sidewalk with smokers and doormen and professional dog walkers. You share IVF stories with your apartment broker and the security guard at your school. You share your destination with a train full of strangers. You share a subway pole with a Dreamer, and a teenager, and man with dreadlocks and his nose in a book. You share your story, with or without words, sometimes with music, sometimes with dance, sometimes with a crinkled expression of sadness on your face, or with the dollar bill in your pocket.
As a New Yorker, you share in sort of a guarded New York way, a piece of yourself, and the city shares back. It always shares back.
I can share my bed with my love, my son, and my dog anywhere (for which I am grateful). I can share my thoughts and pictures on the internet. But I’m going to miss that metaphorical subway pole that so many of us have shared our germs with. Even our germs tell a story.
I’m going to miss the Teacup.
I’m going to miss the intersection of joy and sorrow.
I’m going to miss every single thing you’ve ever shared, however undeserving I am, with me.
I’m going to miss New York.