If you'd asked me a year ago whether I was ready to leave New York, I would have said no. But I'm ready now.
There are several things that have changed, including our neighborhood, which isn't as inviting as it once was. Both my favorite breakfast spot, 'sNice, and my go-to card store, House of Cards & Curiosities, closed, pushed out by rising rents. (I see online that the Park Slope outpost of 'sNice has also closed, and the "high-end hot chocolate" place, Chocolate Bar, referenced in the linked Gothamist story about HOC&C had already closed by the time HOC&C did and, IIRCAID,* even by the time that story went up on the website.)
And there's also the incident this past winter when a guy flashed a gun at Tony while he was walking Grady on our street, on a weekday morning about 10:30 or 11. He didn't say a word to Tony, just showed him the gun under his coat. Tony told the guy "No" and kept walking to our apartment without looking back. Naturally, I was horrified when Tony told me what had happened. And I kept thinking about an alternate reality in which the guy didn't just let Tony walk away.
There's also the feeling that New York is more and more a playground intended only for the rich—and the rest of us can go fuck ourselves. West Villagers had to wait years for a hospital to replace St. Vincent's, but at least Rosie O'Donnell was able to make a cool million by flipping her condo that was built in what had been the hospital complex. So wasn't it all worth it in the end?
I don't feel at all like I'm fleeing New York; it's more that we thought it was time to move on and have a different way of life again for a while.
Tony lived for about five years in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and enjoyed the serenity there. But eventually the isolating winters got to him, and he longed for some more excitement and energy. That's what led him to New York. Now, we're doing the reverse.
Here are a few things I'm not going to miss about New York followed by many more things I will:
The increasingly erratic subway service—though I really enjoyed being able to get around without a car pretty easily, the majority of the time, during my decade in the city. And I'm still trying to get used to the idea of needing to drive everywhere again once when we're in New Jersey.
The noise, which is bothering Tony more and more. And the people who won't get out of my gatdam way when I'm in a hurry. Which I almost always am. And the smells. The northeast corner of 53rd 54th and Lexington, which I walk by twice a day on workdays, has, I've gotta believe, one of the strongest scents of urine in the city.
Things I will miss:
The friends I made here, most of whom I met through my buddy Mark Heskin and his Game Party or through work. I know I'll see most of them again, but it won't be as easy to get together once we're a state away. Same goes for the Schultieses. Bob and Jen were the only people I really knew in New York when I moved to Park Slope in June 2005, and moving into their apartment building made the transition to the city so much easier and more fun.
The Greenmarkets, particularly my local one at Abingdon Square and the huge one at Union Square. You can't eat any better than you can when you buy your fruits, veggies, dairy products, and meats right from the farmer who produced them. I'll especially miss easy access to Violet Hill Farm's Bell Rouge chicken. I've never had better chicken, and I doubt I ever will. I bought one last two-pack of breasts at yesterday's USGM. It's in the freezer for us to eat as probably our last homemade dinner in the apartment.
The awesome restaurants. Last night, Jack and Alex treated us to dinner at Mary's Fish Camp, where we've had so many good meals over the years. (Plus a not-so-good one that made us a take a break from MFC for a while.) We shared two bottles of rosé, and I had the wreckfish special, which prompted me to say, with apologies to Ice Cube, "Checkity-check-fish yo self before you wreckfish yo self."
Because it wouldn't be a Hawleyblog post without at least one photo of something I'd eaten, here's my entree, which, in addition to the Pan-Roasted Wreckfish, also included Moroccan Carrots, Grilled Okra, and Chive Yogurt:
I ate only one piece of the okra. That's the only mainstream vegetable I don't enjoy eating, because of the awful texture.
Afterward, we walked over to the Big Gay Ice Cream shop on Grove Street. I asked Tony to take a photo of Jack, Alex, and me in front of the window, which was not ideal lightingwise:
At Powell's in Portland, I'd bought the Big Gay Ice Cream book, which is formatted like a high school yearbook, with lots of celebrity autographs, because it looked clever and fun, even though I hadn't yet tried BGIC's wares.
Last night, I was leaning toward a Salty Pimp (chocolate shell, sea salt, and dulce de leche), but I had to go with a Bea Arthur (crushed Nilla wafers and dulce de leche), because she's my favorite Golden Girl. I enjoyed my cone, but it seemed very light on the DDL.
Bea showed up in a safety poster demonstrating the Heimlich maneuver on a unicorn:
And Estelle Getty was given a BGIC spin on Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints:
OK, now back to the last few big things I'll miss about New York, though there are really too many others—such as our fantastic vet, the celebrity sightings, the friendly people at the Jane Laundromat—to name them all.
Being two (on the A) or three (on the C or E) subway stops from Broadway shows. We'll still come in for the occasional musical or play, but it'll be a schlep.
Feeling like I'm at the center of the universe, instead of a bit south and west of it. And I know that sounds arrogant, but fuck you, I'm (still) a New Yorker (for a few more days).
*If I remember correctly. And I do!
I took the "MTA YOU FUCKED ME AGAIN" photo at the 8th Avenue/14th Street stop, where I leave for and return from work. I clearly didn't write the graffiti, because I would have put a comma after "MTA."