A level of specificity that requires seasoning and patience.
In eight weeks time, I’m leaving New York. I am relocating to New Orleans for a variety of reasons that are not your business right now. What I do feel comfortable sharing are the reasons I’m not continuing to hang my hat here on a Command hook stuck to a wall because there’s no room for a real coat rack. And sure we can call them “reasons”—but really they’re everything I won’t miss. I don’t believe anything that pokes you in the ribs can motivate you to actually leave, just like I doubt New Orleans potholes will drive me away from that municipality, but I do believe that grievances are allowed to be things you toast to as no more than memory once you’ve signed a lease out of state.
No I’m not leaving because of the pandemic. Why would I leave after I’m vaccinated if I didn’t leave when I was so scared of my city that I stripped naked at the door and ran to the shower after each grocery run? You’re talking to a woman who did not flee, and while it’s a merit badge I never wanted, it’s one you’re gonna be forced to look at every time you come over. I made it past the hard part, this move is for me. So below, the real meat and potatoes. The actual reasons I’m saying goodbye to New York, maybe not forever, but certainly for a long-ass time.
1 — In my earthy lifetime I NEVER want to clean a stranger’s lint out of a lint trap again. EVER. Do not get me started on the dog hair. Do not. Did you know that people in other places have their own washers and dryers and they’re not all billionaires??
2 — I want to see a night sky that’s actually black and not orange. Do you remember stars? DO YOU??
3 — Noise. Noise goddammit, the noise. As I type this, I am being treated to two sounds: The old man on the corner who plays non-melodic saxophone riffs the same way a seven year old plays a recorder with the exact same range of notes from noon to 7:30pm every single fucking day of my life as well as a six-story construction project underway so close to me that if I reach my hand out the window I can slap it. And this my friends, is a quiet day. Me and my self-produced podcast are getting the FUCK out of here and relocating to a place where I can afford a walk in closet with coats and towels as soundproofing. Oh come on is it really that bad? Sometimes I have to take prescription medication because of the saxophone man and the men on the street who park their car outside my building and blast the same (terrible) song so many times in a row I’m afraid I’ll become violent so you can go fuck yourself. Hey, look at that, I am a real New Yorker!
4 — I don’t want to be afraid to say “good morning” to people I pass on the street because I’m worried that I’m going to get literally anything other than a reciprocal “good morning” in return. You don’t talk to people you pass on the street in New York! Are you insane? Every time I’ve visited New Orleans, people have extended this greeting to me, unprompted. It’s a little jarring the first time, I won’t lie, but a morning stroll to a coffee shop can net you no fewer than five courteous greetings that brighten your smile. Are you kidding me? Peace, Brooklyn. Peace.
5 — Subway Stench. You never forget the first time you learn why there’s one completely empty car on an otherwise crowded train. My reason was a dead body, what was yours? (My eyes didn’t tell me he was dead. My nose did.)
6 — I want to make casual, spur of the moment plans again that I didn’t have to book someone two months in advance for. I don’t want dinner on a Tuesday to feel like an event where I need to bring a cute purse. Can we just go get some fucking ramen in yoga pants and no makeup I can’t put this much effort into seeing friends who already like me. I want casual things to happen again goddammit and if I have to move out of state to get them so be it!
7 — In New York, people’s friends don’t know each other. Everyone has like eight different groups of people they know and float between, especially if you’re a single woman. This results in me constantly being the new girl at birthday parties and showers and I’m fucking tired of it. If I spend one more day bearing the exhausting burden of small talk I will scream and become one of those people I’m afraid to say good morning to on the sidewalk.
8 — Street Filth. An errant strand of Mardi Gras beads sounds more pleasant to dodge on the sidewalk than multiple instances of human shit. Argue with me. I want you to.
9 — Sensitivity. New Yorkers are very protective of a place that hates them. Do I love it here? Sure! Does it give a shit? No! Life is easier in other places and I’m tired of pretending like that isn’t a draw. I’m 38 years old and the ability to get anything you want delivered to you at any time loses its luster once you have your shit together and that particular perk starts to sound like the waste of cash it always was.
10 — Money. Obviously. I’d rather pay for a hotel for a weekend than a lease for a year, and if you don’t think that’s going to impact my financial future go move to Red Hook and try commuting to your job in Midtown every day, since you’re so committed to your ideals.
I know I’ll be back. It’s New York. Its imprint upon you does not wash off. It’s imprint by the way is the stuff that drips on you while you ride the subway. New adventures and experiences await me, so do beignets. I’m sure new grievances await as well, but I can assure you that a dead body on a subway is not one of them. Goodbye you gorgeous Apple, you forbidden, festering fruit. Until we meet again, save me an everything bagel. And if I don’t return, just give it to the rats. No, not those, the ones over there. Yeah those. Thanks.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster. You can read all her Medium essays here.