I saw "Hearts Beat Loud" at The Mayan with my mom last week; and while the movie was charming, I could only think about Red Hook and how much I missed that quiet corner of Brooklyn that provided so much solace during our first few months in New York.
I miss walking everywhere. I miss bumping into people on the streets. I miss plugging my headphones into my ears and riding the train and not having to talk to anyone even though there were people everywhere. I miss the clashes and I miss the acceptances and I miss the work of figuring out that puzzle, which always led to a sense of freedom.
My heart aches for New York some days, and I've had enough time to really reflect and let go of all the bad and acknowledge that even the good was only mine for a very brief amount of time. Having had the luxury of thinking space and those thoughts, I'm left with a picture of a home I mostly never had, but could have had, should the "choose your adventure" moment simply followed to the next chapter rather than turning to page 129 instead.
And someone could probably remark that it's not really fair of me to say much about life in New York, since my life in New York was merely a fraction of the time required to be considered a New Yorker; but also, part of me feels like I was born there, like I go on living there even when I'm not there, and like I somehow tethered myself to the Brooklyn Bridge and pulled that cord with me all the way to the Rockies. What if I could have a tin can phone to New York City?
If I could have a tin can phone, or if heartstrings could be attached to cities, or if I'd plugged an extension cord into the New York Outlet that maybe exists somewhere and stuck the other end up my nose, then I'd still tap into some of the energy that I know actually pumps through the sidewalks and the buildings and its inhabitants. When you talk about New York this way, it's not to say that exciting things can't happen anywhere; nor is it to say that creativity and interesting people and inspiration can't be found in any place. But you have to admit, the city is a Mecca for it, of sorts, and with all its people stacked on top of each other and packing into subway cars and begging for reservations at the best spots, it's certainly concentrated.
One thing that surprised me most about living in the city was its warmth, and perhaps this is why I feel like I belong there. Not everyone finds that. In fact, most people--even people I know who've lived there forever--speak of New York's coldness and roughness and the things that keep you out. Except I felt so invited in. I felt seen and valued and included, and the opportunities for that were more than just a chance conversation at a store one time that seems promising but then never actually goes anywhere. Now that we're not in New York anymore and we're back in the Wild West, I've found it's these simple inclusions that I crave the most. I want to wear my pointy silver shoes and gigantic hoop earrings and still be spoken to like a regular human being. I want to text you after you give me your number and ask you to get together and get literally any response. I want to reference a magazine or a restaurant or questions of faith and see a flicker of recognition in someone's eyes. I want to talk about writing and collaborations and new projects and feel invited into those things, not like the other person is ACTUALLY GOLLUM and clutching "my precious" to their chest like I'm a gross pilfering maniac.
I'm trying to find the appropriate balance between adequately mourning something I loved and lost too soon with also sucking it up and not having a bad attitude. I understand that life moves in waves and the life tides pushed us out of New York. I love the adventure notches we carved into our life after leaving--even the hard ones, because that's part of it. I love this beautiful house in this beautiful setting in this beautiful town. And mentioning all if this is not to be confused with conceding to it, because that's not how it went down. I wanted to be here. I wanted our kids to have space to run and get dirty with real nature dirt instead of city filth. I wanted them to grow roots into wild soil and to go to a school exactly like the one we found, where their friends live close and they can ask all the questions. I wanted actual space, with a desk by the window (it's in a room full of windows!) and quiet and trees to watch while I waited for the words to come to me. The missing New York isn't the hating Colorado. I like Colorado.
Colorado Me is another story. Maybe Colorado Me has yet to emerge. Maybe Colorado Me has yet to find something to plug into or has yet to find her squad. (Do Coloradoans say "squad"? Does anyone say "squad" anymore? Idk, I'm 34 now.) But it's this cocooned Colorado Me that just wanted to take a few minutes to say, I miss you, New York. And life after New York, whether you were there for a weekend visit or lived there for half your days, is hard, simply because there's not another place like it. You don't go on being the version of yourself living the version of life you discovered there in your new place. No, when you leave New York, you agree to shed all of that. You agree to adopt a new way of thinking, a new way of living, a new way of seeing the world.
Life after New York is always only starting over, except you do so knowing for sure that New York exists.