You read about it all the time — and if you're Googling it to read about it, you already know it’s on your mind — but there comes a time when every New Yorker wonders… is it time for me to leave New York?
The question doesn’t bug you so much as the fact that you're even asking the question. You remember all too well the feeling that everywhere was cool, but New York was just, well, cooler. And you remember the feeling of sheer elation, when riding back from JFK and crossing the Williamsburg bridge (because, let’s face it, unless you’re going out to Rockaway, the A train after a flight is just not happening), the skyline came into glorious view, and your entire being just… swelled. This is usually the moment of the impetuous “back in New York!” post. And with good reason, for it not too subtly reminds your friends that yes you are back, and yes you want to party, and yes it’s a Tuesday, and yes you can, and yes you’ll probably end up in the bathroom at Le Bain looking down at the city from the 18th floor doing blow and considering a threesome. You can't help but think about New York as the bad boy lover who treats you like crap but is amazing in bed. There’s nothing unusual about this description — New York gets around. You hate it and you love it, but either way the sex is mind blowing, so it’s not really a question in your mind.
Then, somewhere in this haze, people begin to drop off. Just on the periphery at first, so you don’t even notice. When you do, you shrug it off. “That’s the dynamism of New York,” you say, and you genuinely cherish it for its spontaneity. But then it slowly infiltrates your outer, and then inner circle — jobs lost, visas lost, sheer burnout, or boredom — and everything starts to shrink.
Somehow, you find that you’re no longer really explaining away your activities with the occasional “I’m laying low” text. You find yourself expecting to spend Tuesday nights rehashing a memory at a bar where you used to know a bartender, or watching Netflix and eating cheese puffs (which, by the way, is one of the greatest pleasures in the world when it’s a rare treat, but kind of depressing when it’s inevitable). After wrestling with writing off the encroaching slowness, at first, all too harmlessly, for being broke (though there were days where you used to go out with $5 to your name and just sort of wing it, because someone was blagging their way into some party and you were along for the ride, and if it didn’t work out, the bartender down the street was your friend, the kind of friend who knew you well enough to know you couldn’t afford to tip, let alone pay, but fuck it you were all going to play flip cup at the bar anyway). Then, sometimes, for tiredness then for Saturdays to avoid all the douchebags, then weekends in general, and then for longer stretches, like “winter” — and then, you find yourself Googling the inevitable — and, despite the fact that you find most of the articles are written by offensively young twenty-three year olds declaring their tenure over after a mere two years or so as they complain about an overhyped Bushwick (yes, they’re right, but you were here before Bushwick was even a thing, and let’s be honest, New York was always a thing). Scrolling past all that, you stumble across a quiz, entitled with the sacrilegious words: “Are you ready to say goodbye to NYC?” Mostly, you indulge because you’re in your “winter” stretch, and you fucked all your friends’ friends a long time ago, even tried to date some, and now you’re at the stage where some dull guy is texting you, but you’re really more concerned about the fact that you ran out of reality TV to watch, and that means you weren’t just watching it for novelty value. After a few irrelevant questions like “would you line up to try cronuts?” and “how do you feel about Times Square?” the quiz concludes, all too closely for comfort, “For you, New York is like a bad boyfriend: You fight, you say you hate him, and eventually you end up making out with him all over again—and then regret it the next day. Be wary of sticking it out for too much longer.” You can’t help but laugh. Goddammit, even the dumbest quiz on the internet knows New York is your asshole boyfriend.
And then, suddenly it dawns on you.
It actually dawned on you earlier when you saw a group of wannabe club kids lolling around the neighborhood — on a Tuesday, of course (Kenmare or no Kenmare) — and for the first time it made you happy because you knew in that instant that your New York wasn’t dead (who were you kidding), it was just hanging out with somebody else. New York isn’t the bad boyfriend who fucks like a God but drives you up the wall. New York is the bad boyfriend who stopped sleeping with you.
You’re not done with New York… it’s done with you.
Oddly enough, you find the thought comforting. Funny how sometimes it's easier to be dumped. In the moment you stop trying to be fucked, stop wondering why you’re not being fucked, stop wondering what’s wrong with you that you don’t really want to be just fucked but still kind of miss it all the same, the moment you just realize that getting fucked like that is more of a rarity than a regularity, at least for you right now (and thankfully, not for everyone, because there are always new kids in town, which means that New York is still a damn good lay), you find that you don’t really mind. And then you’re cool to say… “fuck it, it was a blast.”