Sunday afternoon and Chief was restless. The sun was slanting through the window of my apartment in the way I love and I’d spent the majority of the day sleeping, watching tv, and reading. Even though I knew I had to go grocery shopping, I grabbed Chief’s leash and set out toward the dog park. We walked the familiar route, the one I’ve run and walked in stinging cold and breathtaking heat, along the waterfront on Columbia Street. One of the best things about my apartment here is the location–just a 20 minute walk from Red Hook, from the Brooklyn Bridge, from Prospect Park.
The New York skyline is visible throughout the walk, the needle of the Chrysler Building etched in relief against the horizon, the towers of lower Manhattan dappled in late afternoon sun. It was more brisk than I’d anticipated so I hadn’t worn a hat or gloves. The wind whipped at us but the sun was shining and the air was fresh, bracing. There was a lively crowd at the dog park, a tiny French bulldog puppy named Rue, a howling bloodhound, a chubby cocker spaniel that Chief befriended. I’d never taken Chief to the dog park alone before, but it felt good to be outside, to be surrounded by playing, barking dogs, the wind and the sun.
Even though my hands were freezing, after we were done playing we walked out to the pier so I could look over the skyline, the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge superimposed over the skyscrapers like those opening shots of movies about New York. And I reminded myself again that I am leaving all of this in less than three weeks, that my time in this place is limited, that I need to keep going out and spending time with it.
I’m moving to Boston on February 1. In many ways, Boston always felt more like home than New York did. My apartment, my neighborhood, Chief–those were my oasis, my tiny island of peace on a larger island, too frenetic and fast-paced for me. Without those things, I would feel unmoored and alone in this vast city, so alive with memories of a life both familiar and distant now. My husband has left me and without him, the city feels alien, like a dream I had once.
Nonetheless, New York was a time in my life that I loved. I’ve lived here for three and a half years. I have beautiful memories and I’ve met some of my favorite people in the world here. It is difficult to revisit those places we once loved together, but I go anyway, because they are part of the fabric of my life and I need to reclaim these things for myself, to not allow this time and these places to serve as symbols of unhappiness. Because I was happy here. And even now, learning to navigate this city alone, I am happy, most of the time. I am optimistic about the future, and as much as I’m looking forward to my new chapter in Boston, I will miss so many things about this city, this time.
A friend asked if I had a New York Bucket List. I think everyone who moves away from here has one, that list of things they must do before they leave. I don’t have one. There is too much to do to prepare, too many people to say goodbye to. I have a few places I’d like to visit one more time before leaving. I’ve gone to a few new places in the last few weeks. I may treat myself this weekend to some museum time, some wandering the city time. But I don’t have a bucket list. What I have is a list of memories, of favorite places and faces. That’s what I want to remember. That’s the list I will carry with me for the coming days–not the things I haven’t done, but all of the things I have done.