On May 4, 2010, I wrote an outline for a blog post called “Goodbye to All That,” borrowing the excellent title of Joan Didion’s essay about leaving New York. I didn’t finish writing it and never posted it, but I’m revisiting it now, having just visited New York last weekend. My original intent was to forecast what I would miss most, and I was remarkably accurate, as it turns out.
Most of all, of course, I miss my friends. None were native to Manhattan or Brooklyn (though there is one Long Islander), but it was – is – an amazing group of people, in the right place, at the right time. Some of them have also left the city, or are planning to; we will probably never live all in the same place again (despite my efforts to get everyone to move to Boston). Just the fact that the most accurate tags for this post are “friends” and “elsewhere” makes me sad, but we are all still in touch, and see each other whenever we can.
Less importantly but still much missed: the Park Slope Food Co-op and the Draft Barn (especially the beer croutons). The Co-op gets a lot of flack, and it isn’t for everyone, but I loved it. As for the Draft Barn, certainly there are bars here with near-equal beer lists, but none I’ve been to so far can match the atmosphere: exposed brick, alcoves, long tables, very few patrons, quiet, space. Also, the beer croutons.
It turns out that I don’t miss the neighborhood itself that much, and as for running into people while out and about, that already happens here; most of my friends in this area do live nearby. I found people to play frisbee with before I even moved, so I don’t miss Prospect Park Sunday pickup too much (though it was great to play there again last weekend).
Unsurprisingly, I’ve found bookstores and cafes here, too, so I don’t miss the Strand or HousingWorks or McNally Jackson (all of which, interestingly, have redesigned their websites in the past year) as much as I otherwise might; in fact, Porter Square Books fills in for McNally almost perfectly, and I live (dangerously) close to it. I’ve also been going to the library much more, using both the Cambridge and Somerville branches.
Subway service 24/7? I don’t miss that so much either, as I can walk to most late-night places, or drive (and driving and parking are much less of a hassle). I do miss actual trains, as opposed to trolley-cars that have to stop for streetlights above ground, but at least the T is a little quieter, more civilized, and generally better-smelling.
As for the lights on the Brooklyn Bridge at night (I must have been feeling quite nostalgic to put that on the list in the first place), I’ll happily swap it for the Charles River.
What I’m reading: My Life in France, Julia Child
What I’m listening to: How to Save a Life, The Fray; The Suburbs, Arcade Fire; The Saints Go Archin’ In, a mix compiled by Ben Apatoff