Hi, my name is Mari, and I did it. I left New York. Last March, after a painful breakup, I put nine years of my New York life--aka my twenties--in a questionable storage unit on Flatbush Ave and boarded a plane to Colorado. I planned to stay for a month. That was a year ago.

Like most people going through a breakup in NYC, I was at loose ends in terms of emotions and real estate. Friends offered their couches, their spare bedrooms, and their late-night counsel. I spent my first newly single week in my friends' apartment in Brooklyn while they were in the Dominican Republic staying up until 4 in the morning every night chain-smoking cigarettes out the window and then airing out the house so they'd never find out (until they read this blog post), ashing into an Annie's chili can, listening to Sia's "Breathe Me" over and over and over again and reveling in the rapidly escalating play count (still my highest on itunes at 226), writing loooooooong terrible poems and raw unsent letters. I was in pain, but I felt dramatically alive.

One of many shaky calls made to friends whose lives were together and for whom 1pm was mid-day rather than early morning was to my friend Gavin in Boulder, Colorado, my soul sister for 11 years. She said, "you need to get out of New York." She told me I could come to house-sit for her parents for the entire month of March in Boulder while they were away in Arizona. I remember having this conversation looking at the Brooklyn Bridge and thinking, "Pro: it's not New York," and "Con: it's not New York."

The day I left, I sprained my ankle leaving a bodega in the East Village at 2am with a fresh pack of cigarettes, after having made out with my ex-boyfriend on the fourth vodka tonic of the night, who then told me I should make out with his fiancee, who was arriving soon, so he could watch. It was a new low point. I spent my last day in New York at the foot doctor getting crutches, and at the airport I had to be put in a wheelchair to make it to the plane. The United Airlines attendee who was assigned to wheel me around left me for a half hour in Hudson Booksellers and I literally thought she was never coming back. When she came back, she demanded a tip, then crashed me into the machine that scans your tickets, coming close to re-spraining my ankle. I was miserable.But when I exited the plane in Denver, Colorado, it was as though I had crossed from hell to heaven. I was greeted with my own personal transport vehicle and three friendly workers to help me get my suitcase and arrange transportation to Boulder. When I asked if they could drive me to the ATM, they said, "Not if you're going to give us a tip! We don't take tips." I was not in New York anymore. These people were making minimum wage, but they were inexplicably in good moods. I experienced the same phenomenon of the Inexplicable Good Moods in the coming weeks at the post office (where I got into a conversation about Frank Sinatra and libertarianism), at the DMV (!), and at the grocery store.I started a list of things that distinguished Boulder from NYC, but called it "Boulder vs. NYC," because even then I knew it was becoming a competition for my affections. Here are a few:

2. construction workers
Mari, wearing a tank top, walks by 2 construction workers on the side of the road. She cringes, expecting the normal NYC construction worker response – some kind of inappropriate hooting and hollering. Here is the actual dialogue:

Construction Worker #1: God, isn’t it beautiful, the petals just blowing off the trees like this?

Construction Worker #2: It is. I read a poem about that exact thing recently. Can’t remember the name of it.

8. getting-to-know-you conversation
New York: What do you do?/How much do you pay for this place?
Boulder: What do you do for fun?/What spirit animal are you?

10. dinnertime
New York: 9pm
Boulder: 6pm

11. a longer-than-normal commute
New York: 1 hour
Boulder: 7 minutes

20. ATM Machines
What the ATM Machine Says to You in NYC: Your transaction is completed. Please remove your receipt.
What the ATM Machine Says to You in Boulder: Have a groovy day!
What the ATM Machine Wants to Add as a P.S. in NYC: I said REMOVE your RECEIPT. Walk AWAY from the machine. I am exhausted.
What the ATM Machine Wants to Add as a P.S. in Boulder: The sun is shining, the air is pure, you are a walking goddess of energy! Krishna krishna!

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