I just flew back to Seattle after spending 10 days in the northeast. About half of that time was spent in the NYC area. It was a very good multi-purpose trip. I worked 2 days at my head office, saw family in New Jersey (yay family, ewww NJ...), saw a lot of good friends, and took a little road trip up to Montreal.

My first few hours in NY, I was surprised at how quickly I could fall right back into my old routines. There are a lot of little things I had to get used to when I moved to Seattle that apparently can be undone or ignored within hours of touching down at JFK. There I was, at one A.M, rolling my eyes, tapping my feet, sighing, waiting for all the TOURISTS figure out how to use the damn Metrocard machine after getting off the Airtrain. The next day much to my relief, I remembered where to switch trains when the A train decided it was going to be making all F stops (and the next day when the F train decided it was making all A stops, what?)

Walk when there's any break in traffic, not just when the light changes. Have your coffee order ready when you get to the front of the line. Get the plain slice, the fancy ones have been sitting there for at least 3 hours. The bartender will not notice you until you actually raise your hand and yell out your drink order. Only suckers take cabs in midtown a 3 p.m. Avoid Times Square when you actually need to get somewhere. Ditto for Broadway below Houston.

Knowing all those little things makes you feel like an insider. I miss all those things. It's fun. There's a certain cache to knowing where to switch from the D train to the C train, not getting grossed out by the smells (too much), taking the heat and humidity in stride. I like knowing that it's like riding a bicycle. I can get right back on and take a spin whenever I want. But did I get all misty-eyed? Did I immediately feel a tug in my chest? Was I immediately scheming how to move back? No.

I was a little surprised actually. Maybe I've been away long enough. Maybe I haven't been away long enough. I know if I made this trip 6 months ago, I would have felt differently. I'd have cursed myself for moving away. But now I don't feel that way. A lot of my friends have moved away. I've found new friends in my new city. I'm excited about discovering a whole host of new cool things to do in the Pacific Northwest.

But it's really the people. When you have a great network of friends and neighbors, all those fun quirks and slight annoyances of New York are worth it. But the difference between a "real" New Yorker and someone who just "rented" the city for a decade or so happens when you watch your social circle start to mutate or deteriorate for the 5th or 6th time. The lifer just can't wait to get out there and create a new circle, build a new New York for themselves. Me, I decided I wanted out. But I love going back.

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Comment by Anna on August 26, 2009 at 3:57pm
ADIT! This is awesome and hilarious and exactly why I'm excited you're here on the site.

It was so great to see you when you were here. It really didn't feel like it had been almost a year since you two left. And it was comforting how happy you both seemed, and how easy it was to fall back into our goofy old conversations. It made me optimistic about the idea of leaving and coming back to visit - how much fun it will be.

Interesting that you refer to "renting" the city - it's that feeling that you're paying for the privilege of borrowing bits of the city (a 100-year-old apartment, a seat on the train, the local bodega) but have very little permanent stake in the things around you. Never thought of it that way before. And I like your point about "mutating or deteriorating" social circles - it's a tricky phenomenon to put your finger on, as people leave, or change their lifestyles. But I'm glad you are settling into Seattle, finding new circles, and feel no regret.
Comment by Adit Nathan on August 26, 2009 at 5:43pm
Thanks!

More on the social circles point: this is something I've maybe struggled with for a long time. I grew up being fairly loyal to my friends and liked to think that I my friends are "for life" or whatever (mostly because it was rare for me to find a person that had something in common with me). So since I moved to NY when I was 17, I've had so many different circles of friends come and go. And because people treat NY as such a "launching pad" for bigger and better things (Oh New York is so done! I'm going to Paris to write for a literary journal! Oh really? I'm backpacking around Vietnam teaching English and starting raves!), there were always people moving in and moving out. The last crop of people leaving NY became more of a case of leaving for "smaller and better" things. Interesting...
Comment by Cindy Fallsen on October 9, 2009 at 10:05am
Jobs often take people to other cities. It is not too often that people want to change jobs. There are lots of things that have to fall in place in the transition (renting an apartment, securing Temporary health insurance, changing address on everything). Coming and going is an interesting thing. I think these days, it really just depends on the job.

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