Ten months after we rolled into New York City, we’re packing to leave. Or, anyway, we’re talking about packing. My husband’s finishing his book and I’m hotfooting it to a few Broadway shows. But we’re scheduled to be out of here on Tuesday, June 15th.
It’s been a wonderful year — one of the best of my life. I’ve fallen in and out of love with this city over and over; at the moment, I’m bonkers about it. (Bad timing. Why couldn’t I be hating it now, tired of the noise and the crowds, ready to flee to a pasture with contented cows somewhere?)
Right now, though, I’m thinking about what I’ll miss the most about it:
1) Walking everywhere. I love the way it’s integrated into life here in a way it simply isn’t outside the East Coast. I recently interviewed a woman from Austin who’s currently living in New York. She talked about trying to walk a few blocks in Austin on a perfectly decent day; several people in cars stopped to make sure she was all right and didn’t need a ride. This is no exaggeration; walking on streets is a subversive act in Texas cities. Don’t ask me why. It just is.
2) Non-stop, direct flights to just about anywhere on earth.
3) Mass transit that works.
4) Movies that have just been released.
A few months ago, I mentioned a movie we’d just seen to our son. I told him it would probably be playing in Austin in another six months. Ha, ha, ha. Now, the joke’s back on us.
5) The real estate section of The New York Times. I can’t explain why I’m addicted to it. Why did Pavlov’s dogs salivate? Some questions have no answers.
6) More than anything, I’ll miss the theater. I’ve saved every playbill and evidently, I’ve been to more than 50 plays since we got here. I’ve continued to be astonished at the unbelievable reservoirs of talent here. Even when a play sucks (let’s use the Addams Family as an example), the sheer talent can make it palatable or even enjoyable.
7) Restaurants, restaurants, restaurants. We haven’t cooked at home once since we’ve been here.
8. Half the Sunday paper arriving on Saturday.
9) Overheard conversations like this one from the 1 route on the subway: Some middleaged guy was chatting up a couple of young German women, telling them how he used to cross into East Berlin when the wall was still up. “One time, I got searched,” he told them. “This guy stuck his finger up my butt. I felt kind of violated. But then I realized — this guy spent his life sticking his finger up people’s butts. Can you imagine?”
No, they couldn’t. They got off at the next stop. By themselves.
Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I normally don’t overhear conversations like this — and I spend much of my life eavesdropping.
10) Our local laundry and its professional folding staff.
11) New Yorkers themselves. What a fascinating population this is — smart, funny, mouthy, ever-surprising and -entertaining.
I will miss all of this and I’m feeling nostalgic about leaving. But it’s always been temporary. This isn’t where I really belong. It’s time to go home.
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read more about having the authentic Chinatown experience