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San Fran, My Mistress
It was late 2012. Brooklyn, New York.
“You do realize you’re talking about the city like you’re stuck in an abusive relationship, right?” remarked an out-of-state pal in a late night Skype call. That was the first time anyone had ever pointed that out to me.
I have to say, he had a point.
There I was, curled under a single blanket in my windowless middle-bedroom in a railroad-style apartment in the “Broadway Triangle”—for simplicity’s sake we’ll call it the edge of Bed-Stuy. I was munching on stale Duane Reade clearance snacks with gloved hands. Gloved, of course, because the heater had yet to kick in despite it being November. At least I had wifi—not just any old WiFi, but a connection strong enough to sustain a video chat. Lucky me.
My friend pressed on, “and by that I mean you’ve made the city itself the abusive spouse.” Again, he had a point. All the warning signs were there, too: from the overwhelming sense of being taken advantage of and disrespected to being repeatedly won over and reeled back in by the slightest ghosts of hope.
I laughed it off. I mean, really, the thought of a city “mistreating” a person just sounds ridiculous. He had me, my friend. I was called out for my blame-placing. But, hey, in my defense I needed to vent a little. Blame the wicked big bad City of New York for all of the bullshit I was facing at the time.
Since Medium has shared similar thoughts of this abusive partner situation between New Yorker and New York City in their piece “New York Doesn’t Love You.” The author writes:
New York City doesn’t love you. Why would you think you’re in a relationship with New York? It’s not a boyfriend or a parent. New York will never give you its approval because New York City is too busy being New York City to care about you.
Two months of what I would later call “the perfect storm” and strong willpower, followed by six extra months of manic travel all over Northern America and I would inevitably find myself in Northern California, straddled between the valley and the bay. Escaped from New York.
My professional life is in San Francisco. Oh, San Francisco. My mistress. My escape from New York City.
There is a buzz amongst the locals that SF has turned into “little Manhattan,” or NYC 2.0 as Silicon Valley techies would probably prefer. East Bay is the new Brooklyn. It’s creepy how nicely the parallels match up. Hell, rent in San Francisco has even surpassed the ridiculous prices of New York City.
I guess I have a type.
One warm summer night under the big California sky, a boy sighed at me and said, “you talk about New York as if it’s some ex lover.” I remember when he made this comment a burn of initial embarrassment was met with a strange rueful amusement at this odd recurring theme.
I guess I can never really let it go. They say first loves never die, after all.
New York and I had a tumultuous time together. I fell for her when I was only a teenager. Love at first sight or something. If I’m being brutally honest, I’ll say that if there ever were to be a place I “belong,” it’s back home in Brooklyn. Soulmates, or some nonsense like that, if I’m going to stick to this motif of partnerships and romance.
Maybe someday we will learn to work things out, that high intensity metropolis and I. Maybe someday I will learn to appreciate the struggle of daily living and perhaps even find beauty in the brutality…today is not that day.
***This piece first appeared in Luna Luna and was republished here with permission. ***
#Real #LunaLuna #NYC #SanFrancisco #Brooklyn #NewYorkLoveAffair #CityAsFirstLove #Cities #UrbanLife #NYCSanFran
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