Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breaking up is (so strangely) hard to do.


How very odd.

Our break up is now official, New York. The closing of my Harlem apartment happened this week. Without me. Because I had already evaporated, New York. Sorry, I simply could not make it. And as you are well aware, the fact that I was not physically present at our final date was most definitely your fault. So, so typical of you, New York.

So very like you, New York! We had made three dates, marked in ink on our calendars. But they came and went while three lawyers, two real estate agents and a co-op Board argued and prevaricated. Finally, one of the three lawyers suggested a date that I had already said was impossible for me, so I just sighed, sucked it up, signed the POA, sent it to my lawyer and managed the break up with you. Remotely.

So amazingly typical of you, New York, that we simply could not find a mutually convenient time to meet! Next time have your people call my people, OK? You remind me of all my New York "friends" who I only "see" on Facebook because nowhere in their high-powered New York lives is there ever a free moment to meet in the flesh. Ooh so sorry! So wish I could be there! Call me soon? Love you lots. (X bloody O.) You, New York, have been consistent from beginning to end.

Until three hours before closing, I was still getting calls from your lawyer regarding changes in the contract of sale (details which cost me money, of course), but by that point I was already with FF in the car speeding purposefully towards our new life, down way south of the Delaware Welcome Center. "They want to change the XYZ to the PDQ", my lawyer said. Yeah, yeah whatever, I shot back. Just. Do. It.

So in true New York fashion, I let my person meet with your people, and he stood in for me at what might have, could have been,most certainly should have been an important and defining moment. He called me at 5:10 to let me know it was done and that he had deposited the check in my bank account. By this morning there were some extra zeroes right there in my balance, and in those cold, silent numbers was written: The End.

I had hoped for some kind of ritual to end our time together. I had hoped to pass the certificate of shares for my beloved, sunny co-op apartment to the nice French people who had bought it, perhaps offering a little speech, thanking everyone, and going out for drinks afterwards to raise a glass to you, New York. Then I would have boarded the NJ Transit express train to Trenton for the last time, and I would have enjoyed those 57 quiet minutes, pondering what we have been to each other, getting thoughtful as I always do as the train glides across the Meadowlands which are impossibly, unexpectedly beautiful at sunset. Instead, the end came with a 30 second phone call: "OK, I've deposited the check. See you!" Great. Thanks. Click.

So that's how it is, New York, huh? After all we've been through together? After 22 years? A sigh and a fat check?

I know that it's over, New York, but I still can't quite feel it. I guess all big love dies hard. The truth is that as of now I never, ever have to go back to see you again. I am free of you. Sure, I may return someday to visit the few luminous souls who made my 22 years with you worthwhile. Perhaps I will stand once again in the cool, gray silence of the Guggenheim spiral near closing time when all you hear is your own breath and the shuffling steps of the security guard coming to kick you out onto Fifth Avenue. Maybe someday I will again sit motionless in Bryant Park, watching the human comedy speed-walk by in its custom suit and tie. Yes, maybe I'll see you again, New York.

Someday.

But for now, I think it's best we spend some time apart.


Photograph: Untitled (crowd 1), 1992, Alexey Titarenko, Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York


4 comments:

fred c said...

I found you on the WARN blog, you've got a nice voice, good luck with it. The idea of leaving NYC has resonance for me, I was born there (Queens) and lived there until I was twenty-seven, when my wife and I moved our little family to L.A. (Going from the frying pan to another frying pan with slightly better weather.)

My biggest problem was adjusting my speech so that people in America in general could understand my English.

Anyway, good luck with the move, and don't let all of that fresh air and quiet get you down.

Urban Exile said...

Thank you so much fred, for your kind words and for connecting with the specificity of this move from NYC which is like no other. I will be careful to watch the doses of peace and quiet in the new life, to begin just one week from today!

My voice here was a little ironic, I suppose. I think people like me best when I am sensitive and not ironic, but each voice has its usefulness.

What is the WARN blog? would you kindly post a link?

Happy 4th!

fred c said...

Sorry, WARN is "insider" shorthand for the We Are Respectable Negroes blog.

Leaving NY really is different, since you are leaving so very, very much behind. Non-New Yorkers have little idea of the vast, daily availability of entertainment and educational opportunities, many of which are free or dirt cheap.

But we had fun with the move. I remember asking my son, after his first week in a Santa Monica kindergarten, how the kids were treating him. He said they were fine, but "they talk funny, they say 'tahk,' and 'dahg,' and 'chahklet.'

Urban Exile said...

Adoro WARN. I really love it.There are simple and smart observations to be found there that are utterly unique.

Regarding leaving much behind....Yes, it is true. Though I would say that ultimately it is the human factor that is hardest to leave, for in that swirl of energy and concrete that is New York I found some real human beings that I loved, or they found me, and it is thanks to Skype that I can still be part of their lives and they of mine. It will be different though. And there is nothing like sitting in a living room on Fifth Avenue with a panoramic view of Central Park when it is just fresh-covered with snow.

Thanks for reading, Fred. - D.