leaving New York

I’m Leaving New York — Here’s What’s Next

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. In all honestly, I kind of lost interest in it after hitting a deep depression after reconciling with the ‘end’ of the pandemic. And here we are, seven months later, and virtually nothing about the pandemic situation has changed.

But what has changed is my own life decisions and direction. We are in a new ‘normal.’ Normal, in the sense, that everything is just a little bit shittier. We bought a car recently, and it took nearly 4 months from the date of purchase to actually get the car. It’s more difficult to fly now, it’s more difficult to do anything. And even if was easier, would you really want to do anything anyway?

All of that factors into why in March, when coming back from a trip to Puerto Rico, we decided to buy a condo in St. Pete, Florida. We were down visiting my parents, who are moving down there, and we just figured, fuck it, let’s buy a condo. It was a great decision, if not a bit more spontaneous than we usually do, and we were in a lucky enough financial position to be able to afford the downpayment without any prior planning. It was all a whirlwind, and within 24 hours, our offer was accepted, and we are now owners of a condo.

Leaving New York is a big life decision. It’s not one I honestly had ever thought I’d make. I grew up on Long Island, went to college in Westchester (and for a year in England), lived on Long Island again (with my parents), traveled the world, and then lived in Brooklyn for the past four years. Looking back on my reasons to want to move to NYC in the first place, they were mostly upended by the pandemic. It’s hard to enjoy a shared space and varied people when they can all potentially infect you with Covid (which I’ve now gotten twice). And it’s hard to have much of a social life and enjoy all that NYC has to offer when you’re spending most of your time reacclimating to society.

Hanging out at Rudy’s — my favorite dive bar

Memories like this one are some of my favorites of New York. But so many of them happened when I didn’t live here. I’d come from Long Island, from Westchester, or even in between trips to visit friends, and even meet new people. I met my close friend and artistic collaborator in New York. I spent many great evenings in my brother’s closet Chinatown apartment, and then we entered a cannoli eating contest together. I went out with my close childhood friends most weekends during college in St. Mark’s and then stayed at their dorms at NYU. I’ll still know and love all of these people, but our relationship won’t be based around a shared proximity to New York anymore.

None of those things actually happened when I lived here though. Actually living here has been an experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself, what I’m capable of, what I could actually tolerate, and what I can’t or won’t tolerate. And it turns out, at heart, I don’t think I’m a city person. Not many of my favorite experiences of being in New York actually occurred when I was living here. The day-to-day, especially during Covid, sucks. Riding your bike in traffic, and having people around you all the time is not enjoyable. Lacking peace, quiet, and any sort of access to the outdoors has been tough. We’ve hopped on planes around the country in the past couple of years, to Alaska, to Hawaii, to Colorado, to Montana, just to go outside.

There are things I still love though, and things I’ll come back to here. The food is incredible, for one. I’ve traveled all over the world, and there’s no place you can eat such varied foods that are extremely high quality. There’s a lot of crap here, like everywhere else, but if you know where to look, you can find some incredible activities as well. I saw an entire season of Broadway this past year and actually got to have opinions on the Tonys. That was really fun! But is it worth being stuck in your small apartment, not being able to leave without having to interact with hundreds of people on the street? Probably not.

Not to mention, the cost is becoming ridiculous. Our 2-bedroom condo in Florida, with a car, will be cheaper than our 1-bedroom apartment here in Brooklyn. Cost isn’t the only factor that would make you want to move, but it does matter. But more importantly, I think it’s just not for me. I don’t want to deal with people all the time, and I think some of the values that make New York great are not ones that are going to carry it well into the new ‘normal.’ If risk is now individualized, it’s impossible to live in a collectivist city that is also fiercely independent of its identity.

I’m glad I lived in New York when I did. And I think I would’ve always regretted not living here. But after four years, you really learn who you are and what you need out of life. And being stressed around thousands and thousands of people every day is not what I need. A year and a half ago, I started developing pelvic floor issues, which likely stemmed from a bad bout of Covid. Since then, I’ve been regularly going to acupuncture, pelvic floor therapy, and even mental health therapy to deal with the anxiety that is fueling this. And it has helped — but one thing all of these medical professionals have agreed on is that New York is likely not good for me.

Leaving New York won’t solve all my problems. It’ll solve some, and it’ll create new ones. With a very generous living offer from my in-laws in Montana, it seems likely that our immediate future will be split between Florida and Montana. I’ve traveled the world, lived in New York, and now, it’s time for something new. Saying goodbye to this chapter is difficult. Leaving my friends and family isn’t easy — but as time goes on, we’ll all be less and less tied to this place, and more tied to the experience of just being with one another, whenever we can. And with kindness in our hearts, and openness to new experiences, I think we can adapt to any situation that life presents us.

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