An Open Letter to New York City

Woman shopping in NYC and walking on the street
Woman shopping in NYC and walking on the street

Dear New York,

I can't believe it's been 2 1/2 years since we broke up. June 2013 was a confusing time for both of us. I'd developed feelings for someone new, but wasn't quite ready to let you go. You tried to reel me back in by dangling friendships in front of my face, doling out an uncharacteristically mild summer, and reminding me of your phenomenal Indian food, but eventually you realized that it was time to set me free. You delayed the A train every day for a week straight. You fulfilled my final wish to be within 10 feet of Andrew Rannells. You banned bottomless mimosas. I finally saw the light and boarded a Megabus out of town.

I didn't move on right away, as you know. I visited you at least once a month. I bragged about our time together, using our two year relationship as an important part of my identity. I knew your reputation as a heartbreaker, so I ensured everyone that our breakup was mutual. I swore that you didn't spit me out -- I simply knew it was time to move on. Internally, I wrestled with how I truly felt about the whole thing. I thought that maybe I'd never fall in love again. That you and I would be a Nicholas Sparks story of endless turmoil and passion, reuniting throughout life without ever finding stability or satisfaction.

The thing is, I knew we weren't soulmates. I hope you know I wanted it to work -- I really did. I loved the sound of zooming tires, endless construction, and music floating out of hidden bar doors. I found comfort in the bustling nature of constant exposure to others without any significant interactions. I lived for the rush of independence that accompanied running from one train platform to another without needing to look at any signs. I adored the sense of belonging I felt when I saw my friends, truly understanding the value of a being recognized. I respected the ambitious energy surging through the dreamers everywhere I looked, and appreciated the wisdom and concern I saw in the eyes of the elderly life-timers. You made me feel alive, New York. I thought we really had something special. I was your queen, after all.


But then you disappointed me. You let people who dedicated their entire lives to you forget about their dreams. You encouraged double-lives and shadowed existences. You were controlling, and wanted my love only for yourself. You let me think I was doing something great with my life just by being with you, when in reality -- I was shrinking. I let your coarse humor replace my harmless wit. I became accustomed to momentary highs and crushing lows, convinced that they were healthy. I tried to find romance with people who I later realized were just as ensnared by your jealous love as I was.

Nothing can replace your tantalizing array of pleasures. No one can replace your addicting pats on the back. Success with you defined success at all... and that's how I knew I needed to recalibrate. I needed to prove that you were not the end all, be all to my self-worth.

Every time I was back in your arms during my first year of visits, I felt a pang of regret. Should I move back? Where's my daily dose of magic? Can I even trust a glass of wine that is less than $14? People told me I had to either love or hate you, but I couldn't accept that polarity. While loving you was too painful, I knew I could never hate you. Not after everything we'd been through. Not after I sat on a step stool in the back of a random bodega for 30 minutes with an unpurchased water bottle pressed to my head as I tried to make it home one morning after martini night, not after the cab driver kicked me out in the middle of Harlem at 2:00 a.m. when I lost my wallet, and certainly not after the bed bugs. Oh, dear Lord, the bed bugs. New York, you've seen me at my worst -- and at times challenged me in ways I never wanted to be challenged -- but I could never regret us.

Since love and hate were off the table, I concluded that we must become friends. Initially, I needed some separation to make this happen, but I'm so glad we've come this far. I love that I can now visit you whenever I want and enjoy your company without wishing things were the way they used to be. I still have a blast taking advantage of all the inspiration you have to offer, and cherish the familiarity I feel in your presence. You'll always be part of who I am, but I do not hold myself to high esteem just because we loved each other for awhile. You're great and all, but you'll never be the love of my life. You'll just be an old friend. I hope you're as happy with that arrangement as I am.

My love is elsewhere now. My love is in my husband, who doesn't value money and work above connection and compassion, like so many of the bachelors you put in my path. My love is in my friends, who show unconditional support no matter where I live. My love is in God, whose gifts are so much greater than anything you have to offer. My love is found in intangible contentment -- not in a particular city, lofty goal, or singular definition of success.

I'm sure your love really works for some people, New York, but it didn't for me. Thanks for still being my friend and housing so many people that I adore. We may not have been a perfect match, but I'll never take for granted the lessons you taught me or the pizza you serve. See you soon, kiddo!

Your pal,