7.13.2004

a year to say goodbye

I am keenly aware that this is my last year in New York. I've written an essay about this, but since I'm trying to get it published (by someone other than me), you'll have to wait to read it.

Combing through some old computer files recently, I came across a "New York City to-do list" I drew up about 10 years back, compiled from articles and listings I would come across. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of them we had covered: the Morris Jumel Mansion, the Dyckman House, the scale model city in the Queens Museum. The Russian shops in Brighton Beach, an ancient pizzeria somewhere on the D line. (Note to self: eat at DiFara again before leaving.)

A few holdouts remain. This year, I have to get to the Merchant House Museum, the New York City Fire Museum, and the two sculpture parks in Long Island City. (Seeing the opening dates for those, I understood why they have eluded us: April to October. Baseball season.) There are beautiful new mosaics in many renovated subway stops; we have to plan a day to see as many as we can.

I regret I won’t be here to track the progress at the World Trade Center site. Of course I can read all about it online, but I won’t be able to watch it unfold in person. On September 12, 2001, we went downtown, as close to the site as we could get. We stood with a small crowd and gaped at the churning cloud of smoke and soot, still thinking, somehow, the cloud would clear and those two boxes would still be standing.

We made periodic visits thereafter, to bear witness and shed tears and generally keep in touch with this monumental change in our city. I have avidly followed the debate, pored over the designs, read the criticisms. The whole process has meant a lot to me, and I’m sorry I won’t see the new buildings grow step by step.

My daily meanderings have taken on a special poignancy, as I contemplate that my New York days are numbered. Coming home from work by car service on the weekends, speeding up the west side at night, Riverside Church is lit up, and the George Washington Bridge... and my heart squeezes. As a friend said recently, "That's what New York does to you." It doesn't give you a send-off, it doesn't beg you to stay. It barely acknowledges you with a shrug, says "your loss," and continues, impervious, imperious.

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