Goodbye, New York
Breaking up with my crazy ex-girlfriend.
New York is the girl that walks into the restaurant and whole tables go quiet. Your friend isn’t hearing the words leaving your lips, and the eyes that were previously fixed on you are making regular visits to something shiny over your shoulder. The men to his left and right are taken in by the same gravity, and as their disbelief reaches a fever pitch, you feel a kiss on your cheek. “Hi, baby.”
You rise to greet your girlfriend and as you introduce her to your friends, their eyes cross and their words slur. Once she sits down, the drinking pace increases—five hands reach for the Chianti—it is now finished—and seconds later overflowing martinis swing from tray to table. They have the intended effect: wide eyes narrow, sentences regain meaning.
But the aftershocks keep coming. Her personality scintillates as brightly as her blue eyes. She speaks well, laughs easily, and can play along in fantasy worlds. She listens to banal stories with an intensity that makes everyone’s world fall away: the only thing that remains is the storyteller’s.
She doesn’t claim to be “one of the boys” and she certainly isn’t—she brings something far more valuable than a socially-pressured masculinity: an authentic femininity. She sets your friends up on dates, warning them who is for the night and who is for something more. She advises them on their love lives, magnifying the writing on the walls of their relationships. Indeed, her presence is wholly desired—her energy paints warm Friday night skies a more seductive shade of blue; her laugh absorbs the shame of a hangover.
This is not just an outward display: her vitality grows with closer contact. Life with her is a movie, and when things get hard, you remember that hands aren’t motivated to hold onto shapeless plot lines; you remember that calluses are physical evidence of metaphysical strength. Aren’t diamonds created from the greatest pressures?
After six years, the conversation of marriage comes up, and with it comes the desire for space. Some time to think things over. You head to the country and spend a month with your family; this time when you return, your eyes no longer adjust to the darkness.
The tap of her foot and the flick of her eyes toward the restaurant bathroom gives way to a sinking feeling where the butterflies used to be. The irreverent laugh that came along with heaps of shopping bags is now being described as maniacal. The shallow pit of credit card debt is starting to take the shape of a grave. The $300 sake that she insisted on ordering didn’t taste much different from the $20 one you had with your parents.
You start to realize… that she’s a little fucking crazy.
To deny her greatness is impossible; to reduce her expansiveness to cherry-picked flaws is dishonest; to forget what she taught you is irresponsible. There are better options for a night—perhaps there are better options for a fling—but to date, New York is undefeated. She helps you discover range while she moves through different octaves. She forces you to feel strength while she cheers you on ringside. She gives you new senses while she plays with your pulse.
There is no bitter ending here—not one of those blocked-number type things. It’s one of those I-love-seeing-you-every-few-months type things because it will be electric. It can’t not be electric. Sometimes it’ll be to get the latest news, sometimes it’ll be just to be together; whatever it is, we’ll enjoy it.
But the ring, the ring will have to wait for another.