“It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was.” – Joan Didion, Goodbye to All That
We said we were leaving New York twice before. And we did leave, at least for a while. The first time was for Kenya, a year of traveling in Africa. The second, for the Eternal City of Rome, but our time wasn’t eternal, no. Only a triennium. When we first came to New York, we promised to stay for only five years. But we broke that promise, and now, 15 years later, we are leaving and maybe, this time for good. But who knows. I guess I knew that when we left New York those other times, we wouldn’t feel at home, and those places were not where we belonged. Maybe I missed the place— ‘our town’ —the place we called our own. But coming back, with each stint abroad, I realized everything had changed. We tried to bring back the feelings of why we fell in love with New York. We walked every street trying to remember, to hold onto the memories that already passed. We would never get them back. Maybe New York was never our home. But it doesn’t matter anyway because time moves on, so do we, and “the world fills in the gaps it makes.” I could talk about all the things that bother me about New York — the density of people, the aggression, the noise, the lack of space — but there really is no point in looking backwards. I guess it is better to just say goodbye and fare thee well to all that.
“All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.”