Woke up, thought about New York. Trudged to the bathroom, thought about New York. Looked at my aging face in the mirror, thought about getting a laser facial, but alas, being out of America isn’t ideal for such luxury services. I’ve often been accused of being unable to live in the present; I’m a victim of nostalgia and all the false memories and impressions it can bring. But I didn’t want to believe this was the reason that New York was always on my brain, or why I couldn’t think of one good reason I left other than, you know, having to work there and letting it turn me into an alcoholic. I chose to forget about these two glaringly life-consuming elements of having to survive there. And it was merely survival–little time or money was left for much else.
Then again, New York was like any truly great love–it made you hate it one instant and then did something so magical the next that you had to admit you were still enamored by it. I tried to use reason and logic to stop glorifying it so much, told myself all the objectively horrible things about it: the wall to wall concrete constantly boxing you in, it wasn’t a place for artists and weirdos anymore (indeed, the amount of office workers and normals was getting alarming), the boxcar-like train situation, the rent prices, the people who gravitated there that didn’t seem to care if you lived or died so long as it didn’t affect their ability to make money. All of these things should have made me want to stay in Europe–where I had exiled myself–a continent with its priorities straight. But the yearning for that bagel- and asshole-filled city consumed me at every turn.
It would take years to forget all that it had instilled within me. I didn’t have years to spare in order to get over it. Why did I have to start over somewhere new if I had finally found a place that fit like a tattered old shoe? To prove something to myself, to others? How absurd. And as much as I knew that New York and everyone in it was soldiering on just fine without me, it didn’t make me feel any less attached. It could function totally unaware that I had ever left, which, of course, made me want it all the more. Like some toxic lover, it beckoned to me from every corner of the world. No, it wasn’t the epicenter of music, art and literature as it once had been. In fact, it had done an about-face by allowing itself to be overpowered by finance, commerce and corporate real estate. But I had never fallen in love with something so hard. Not Los Angeles, not San Francisco, not Chicago and certainly not these faux bohemian cities that were attempting to accommodate alcoholics with artistic aspirations, like Austin or Philadelphia or Boston. No, New York was it.
I couldn’t be convinced otherwise anymore. Not by myself or anyone else who talked shit about how overrated it was, telling me I was vacuous for wanting to exist in such a meaningless, soulless place. Maybe I was meaningless and soulless too then. Really, the worst aspect about admitting not being able to shed myself of New York’s dingy skin was that it simply showed to everyone who already felt superior as a result of living there that, yes, they were right, there’s noting else out there that compares. I didn’t care, I would be just another body who threw myself overboard to it–to its immunity to my love. Unless, that is, some other city catches the spark of my ardor before I make it back. After all, if New York was a person, he’d flit about in the same way if something better caught his eye. It’s always about the next thing, isn’t it? Something that doesn’t actually ever come to fruition, but that you can almost convince yourself of being worthwhile if the price is expensive enough. For surely a high cost to pay means a high value as well. I suppose that’s why New York is so impressive.