As the title would indicate, I’m leaving New York City. For real. It’s a done deal. Not thinking about it. Not considering it. It’s already done.
I’ve lived in New York City for 15 years. I moved here on June 5th, 2006 (ironically, I’m moving out on June 4th, 2021 so it's exactly 15 years). Unlike the droves of New Yorkers who left during the pandemic, I’m leaving right when things are opening up. Honestly I think I’d be a lot more sad if 2020 hadn’t happened. I’ve been trapped in my house for a year and a half anyway, so closing this giant chapter of my life is more like a dull hum than a bang.
Anyway, let’s back up for a second.
My son is going to be 9 months old in two weeks. He weighs like 20 pounds and is starting to crawl around and parenting in an NYC apartment has been getting harder by the day. We work full time in a super fast paced industry, but when he was a really little baby it was easier. He just kinda sat there and did nothing. Now that he’s a literal bouncing baby boy, we had to finally bite the bullet and get some daycare. If you’ve never had the pleasure of having kids in New York City, lemme break it down for you. A dropoff daycare in Willliamsburg where he can spend his time during work hours is nearly $4,000 a month. Obviously, we ain’t got that. So instead we went the nanny route. Nannies range pretty wildly, but it’s not really something you want to cheap out on. So we have a woman come in and play with him and feed him and stuff for a couple hours a day, three days a week. So it helps, but it’s not great. She’s $25 an hour. That comes out to be $1800 a month. That’s 66% of our fucking rent.
There’s only a certain amount of belt tightening we can do, so we’re feeling that burden, and it won’t get better as he gets older. So for the last few months we’ve been bled dry financially just trying to live, and our goal of buying a house is getting further away. On that front, 2020 strikes again where any New Yorker who did have money just bought every available house in the tri-state area, squeezing out people like us that would have used a first time homeowner loan. These yuppie fucks are walking into every town and paying double, in cash. So basically even if we could afford it, we can’t afford that.
And it’s not just financial burden and the getting too big for our space thing. 2020 changed basically everything about NYC. Most of our friends moved away. A saddening amount of our favorite spots closed their doors forever. We had to honestly ask ourselves if it’s worth paying a premium for a less valuable product. Sadly, for us, it’s not.
After much discussion, we looked at the bigger picture. The day our son was born, a clock started ticking. We knew that one day we would have to leave because the public school system in NYC is a real crapshoot (Greenpoint has excellent schools, but if we can’t afford a bigger space, we couldn’t stay anyway). The goal has always been to ride off into the suburbs sunset once he was about 3 or so, but its just too hard and we’re too fucking tired, honestly. So it’s time to go. We’re ripping off a bandaid that we knew would need to be ripped one day.
So all this added to the general NYC living annoyances (bugs, screaming drunks, loud dumpsters, etc) it just got to be too much. Everyone needs a certain level of rebirth after 2020, and for us this is our new beginning. Really, above all else, we have to do whats best for our son. He deserves the space to play. He deserves to have a good experience when we can’t be with him. He deserves best friends and bike rides and backyards, and no matter how much we make we’ll never be able to give that to him here.
We’re moving to Fairfield, CT. I grew up about 30 miles away outside New Haven. My mother is from the area and my dad’s various businesses have all been based in the Fairfield/Bridgeport area, so it’s like going home but it’s also not. They’ll be living in nearby Trumbull so I can see them all the time (until they move away at the end of the year), so that’s nice. There are beaches and restaurants and bomb-ass pizza (its CT, afterall) and stuff for the baby to do and I still have some good friends close by to hang out with. The yuppie palace we’re living in has a gym and a roofdeck and a working area and all that good shit. And we’re buying a car so we can go wherever we want. It’s truly the stuff that broke-ass millennial dreams are made of. In the end, our quality of life will go up, but it’ll be immeasurable for our son. Mostly.
For all the things we’re gaining, I can’t help but feel like we’re giving up quite a few things at the same time. At the top of this list is my youth. I’ve been living in New York City since the day after I graduated college at 22. Basically my entire 20s and 30s have been spent here. Every pivitol day of my life in those 15 years I went to bed in New York City. And now I won’t have a bed to sleep in here anymore, and that’s really affecting me. I’m essentially closing the book on half my life. I used to joke all the time that in NYC, everyone stays 25 for 10 years. None of us can afford to get out or do the things that force you to grow up, like have kids. I was lucky enough to get my shit together enough to comfortably start a family, but now that I’m launching into full on suburban dad-ness, I feel a very sharp twinge of pain for what that really means.
I joked to a friend the other day that I’m retiring from being cool. That’s stupid and of course not true, but I can’t help but feel that way. Really, I ceased being cool the moment my son was born, but 2020 allowed us all the live in a Groundhog Day universe so it hasn’t felt real until I booked the movers to get out of here. It’s over. It’s really all over.
But let’s look at reality, here. I literally live AT the train station. I can be back in the city in less than an hour any time I want. I have a car (and a motorcycle!), so I can drive in and hang out all day if I want to. Essentially it’ll be like I never left, just hanging out takes a bit more planning. What I’m trading in convience I’m gaining in quality. I can still go to the barber, and the comic store and tattoo shop, eat with my siblings and have a drink at Black Rabbit, I just have to make a day of it and ask my wife ahead of time if it’s OK if I’m gone all day. Or Grandma watches the baby and Reb comes with me. Like I said, planning. This is all theoretical, and my friends may never call me again now that I’m not a few blocks away anymore, but it’ll be up to me to forge my own destiny. And if it’s a battle to stay relevant in my own life, it’s a fight I intend to win or die trying.
It’s funny. I wanted to be out after 10 years, not 15. I had always figured when the time came, I’d throw myself a huge party with all my friends and go out in style. But all my friends moved away long ago and frankly, nobody cares. Shit, I barely care. I’ll quitely sail off into the Undying Suburbs and be back to hang out in a few weeks after I get settled. But there are so many things I’m going to miss. Things that will only make sense if you’ve lived here as long as I have. Things that make this inconvient shithole of a city the longest relationship I’ve ever had. So many memories that I wish I could trap in a snowglobe.
I’ll miss Transmitter Park, a two minite walk from my house, where Manhattan looks like a big castle. That feeling of the first weekend of nice weather after a long winter when the whole city is in a good mood. Going over the Wiliamsburg Bridge drunk in the back of a cab in the middle of the night, enjoying the strange silence of a city still but not asleep. Meeting friends at the bar with 20 minutes notice for hangout that’s more fulfilling than something you planned weeks in advance for. The deadly quiet of the first snow of the year where the sky turns a weird purple color.
I’ll miss the party that is the L train at 1AM, everybody headed to their last few stops of the night. Walking around McCarron Park in the summer, feeling nervous that people are having more fun than me. Shopping at Cato’s for a new jacket every fall. Tuesday nights at Black Rabbit for trivia. Karaoke at Brookyn Night Bazaar at 2AM. Striking out hard at Union Pool and walking 30 minutes back to Montrose with no headphones in case I got mugged.
I’ll miss Summer Fridays at work where you feel like you could do anything. Getting my ears blasted at Webster Hall or Saint Vitus or Irving Plaza. Dodging drunk bridge and tunnel revelers on the LES on a Saturday night. Drinking Bud Lights at the Library and trading scene stories. Friday night decompression at Macri Park or Harefield Road. Bringing dates to Matchless or Over The Eight. 4th of July fireworks on the roof at the Meeker Compound.
I’ll remember sleeping on a pile of pillows for three months after my girlfriend took everything we owned with her when she left. Having that one last ill-advised drink at a shithole bar that still lets you smoke insdie. Opening up the throttle on my motorcycle down Kent after a long day. Slicing into the best damn hanger steak I’ve ever had at Rye. Hosting dinner parties that are more fullfilling and fun than a year’s worth of bar visits.
I’ll miss holding Reb’s hand on Governor’s Island. Getting entirely too drunk watching the Bengals play at Mulhollands on Sundays. Arguing with cab drivers who are trying to cheat me on the way back from the airport. My first awkward date with Reb at Pencil Factory. Seeing my son smile on the swings across the street from the Slice Shop. Catching a glimpse of Milton Street during a summer sunset and thinking that I live on the most beautiful street in the world.
I would quote Blade Runner and say that all these memories are like tears in the rain, except it’s not like that at all. These moments and feelings are what makes me. It’s everything I am. This stupid, expensive pain-in-the-ass city has been my home for so long, it’ll never stop being my home. I built some of my deepest friendships here. I developed my career here in the NYC agency world, which honestly is no small feat. I met my incredible wife here. Our son was literally made here. To put it in marketing terms, the return on my investment has been extremely high. Every good thing I have in my life I have because I lived in New York City. I can never repay that debt.
It’s a cliche way to think about it, but I very much entered this city as a boy and I’m leaving it as a man. I can remember very clearly the first week I moved here and started my first job. 22 years old, stepping out of the N train at Times Square and strutting towards my office, blasting Bloc Party in my iPod headphones, thinking about how I was going to spend my $400 paycheck.
Fast forward 15 years and 20 pounds, and I’m packing my son’s toys into a box to move my family to the suburbs. If I could enter some kind of temporal warp and give that 22 year old advice, I’d first explain how credit works to him, but then I would give him one, singular piece of advice — be present. I spent the entirety of the last 15 years worried sick about money, or jobs, or apartments or any of the other bullshit that plagues our lives. I’d tell him that he’s a young man living on his own in New York City. Get out there and LIVE. I had many adventures in my time here, but there was always this foundational worry that kept me from really enjoying anything.
If I have any regrets about my time here (and let’s be honest, I do), I’d say the biggest one is I never let myself be a little reckless. I never had $10 in my bank account. I hardly ever stayed out late on weeknights. I didn’t take a fucking vacation for like 10 years. I played it safer than I needed to, and as I brush the gray hair out of my eyes while I write this, I wish I’d gotten into a little more trouble, the kind of trouble New York City has in abundance.
Anyway. I thought the best way to deal with this was to pull an Irish Goodbye and just disappear. But I felt like I needed to get it all out there. Really, I’m not even really leaving. I just don’t sleep here anymore. I have a car and a very reliable and quick train to bring me back here any time I want. I’ll still be there at Black Rabbit on Tuesdays every once in a while. I’ll still have dinner with my siblings on a weeknight at some foo foo-ass place my sister picks. I’ll still be there to bring my cute baby to your house party and leave early just like I do now. All in all, even though me and New York City are breaking up, we’re still best friends.
Like with any breakup, I can only really hope for one thing. New York — I won’t forget about you. I hope you don’t forget about me, either.
Thank you. For everything. See you around.