I had this post kicking around as a draft for awhile, never finding the right time to publish it as my mood constantly waffled, but the news about the Chelsea Hotel has once again confirmed my gut feeling that maybe I’ve outgrown New York, or vice versa.
Dear New York,
We need to talk. I think it’s time we take a break, get a little distance. It’s not you. It’s me. It’s just that, well, I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore. I still love you, I always will, but I don’t get the butterflies in my tummy feeling anymore, the moments of aesthetic arrest, the thrill of discovery. We’ve gotten too comfortable with each other, too complacent. I burned through my ambition too soon and now I just exist, here with you, within my means but unfulfilled. We have our routine, but are we really making each other happy? I’m just not sure anymore.
When we first got together, I was so young, so naive, and you taught me so much. We’ve been together through good times, bad times, and worse. I stuck by you not because you needed me, but I needed you. Now, I need a change. Surely you’ve noticed a difference in my demeanor. Don’t say you haven’t. I’m surlier now, more withdrawn. My tolerance for bullshit has ebbed. And, like I said, it’s me. I don’t want to end up blaming you, resenting you, for my own shortcomings. But if I stay with you, I will. Then all my memories will be colored by that secret resentment, that film of bile.
Trust me, I know if I go somewhere else, in the back of my mind, I’ll always compare my new home to you. You were my first. The template, the archetype for an adult life.
Also, I hate to say it, but you’ve become so materialistic. Baby, you’ve changed. I mean, you always had your predilection for the finer things, but you used to enjoy the bohemian kicks as well. Now, you have both a penchant for the newest, most expensive bauble and a need to be like everyone else, by that I mean everyone else across the country, happy with Starbucks and box stores and suburban homogeny. I used to love your sense of danger. Where has that gone?
I’ll always treasure the good times. The lazy Sundays reading the Times. The solemn walks through Central Park. Coming out of a club at 4AM in the dead of winter, the cold wind invigorating my flushed, sweaty face. The kinship amidst the craziness. The anonymity you afforded me. The bands you turned me onto. The opportunities embraced and squandered. Brilliant sunsets over the river. The orderly grid of Midtown. The chaotic, overlapping tree-lined streets of Greenwich Village. Your impeccable taste in cuisine. Your gritty sheen. All your celebrity friends. Late night cab rides up the avenue, the relentless neon lights. The hustle of the Times Square subway station during the morning rush hour. Everything equally marvelous and maddening.
As Joan Didion said, you’re town for the very rich or the very young. I’ve yet to strike it rich and I’m not feeling particularly young these days. So, where does that leave us? Though frankly, you’ll be fine, I’m sure. Me, I wonder. You don’t belong to me, and I don’t belong to you. I guess I’ll just end up another one of your transient lovers. How long can a person hold on to their muse, anyway?
I feel foolish writing you this Dear John letter. I may never send it to you. But I needed to put this into words, because I had to be honest with myself, before I could ever be honest with you.