Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Island Life

Goodbye, Manhattan.

We moved this weekend. I'm of two minds about the whole thing, and have so much more sympathy for people who have to move than I have before. It's a hard thing, even when it's as easy as could be. Roger found our new apartment and handled our paperwork and hired our movers and packed up many of our things while I was busy feeling anxious and being busy. Our landlord let us out of our lease early without any trouble. My parents generously gave me some money to help with paying the movers. And our new home is just gorgeous. It's so big and has lots of beautiful natural light and it's close to so many of our friends and has such a good commute for both of us. It's so right.

And yet, it's a hard thing. I'm heart-broken and teary-eyed about it, at weird times. This morning, I was aghast at both how quick my trip to the office was and at how sad I felt to be getting off on the opposite side of the Herald Square subway platform. I hardly ever bought cookies from Levain Bakery, but when I saw they are the number one recommendation on Trip Advisor for restaurants in New York, I was incredibly sad not to live a few blocks away anymore. At times, I'm overwhelmed by the sadness I feel over leaving a place that didn't have heat for the entirety of a winter that was so cold, it has its own Wikipedia page. When I'm not overwhelmed by the sadness itself, I'm overwhelmed by feeling any sadness at all.

It was our first apartment together and although I was anxious about moving in and although we had some of our very worst fights there and although we had been together for seven years before we lived there, it still feels important. It still feels like home and safe. I thought we'd live there for years and then maybe buy a house. It felt like the first permanent living arrangement I'd had since leaving for college. Feeling like I had a permanent living arrangement, finally, finally, was vital to me during those first two years. It let me live through the destabilization that was grad school without feeling completely destabilized.

It was also likely the only time I will ever live in Manhattan or in a neighborhood so fancy as our little section of Harlem. We don't make a lot of money and unfortunately, to live in Manhattan, you kind of need to. We certainly weren't fancy urbanites. We just got lucky with a rent stabilized apartment in a neighborhood that blew up right after we moved in. But for a little while, it was fun to pretend. It was fun to tell people where we lived and hear them say how nice the area was. We live in a nice part of Brooklyn now, but it won't ever have the same cache as living in Manhattan, and that's okay. It just makes me a little sad to think about. At Christmastime, it was adorable to live on Saint Nicholas Avenue, and it was there that I first decided to make celebrating Saint Nicholas Day a tradition for us.

It was also an appreciated taste of island life. It hardly feels like Manhattan is an island, but it is and it being an island always felt important to me, a water baby and a Pisces. We lived through two hurricanes there. I ran on the paths next to the Hudson and East River. I kept saying I would go to a beach and then never going. I suppose living in England counts as having lived on an island, but Manhattan was the first place I lived that ever felt like an island. It's so isolated in many ways, even as cosmopolitan as it is. In my poetry, I spend so much time wandering alone on the shore, and that's what a lot of Manhattan felt like. Yes, there were many days spent wandering with Roger and meeting up with friends and going to movies and galleries and readings. But there were also all the hours spent home alone or running up and down Central Park or staring at my churning laundry. So much time spent being alone surrounded by millions of people.

It's quite the island, and although I know I'll be back five days a week for the foreseeable future, it still hurts to leave.

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