Our belongings were packed and the movers had been reserved. We were sitting in our favorite Greek restaurant with our good friends Gary and Anna.
It was one of my final farewells to the places and people I have loved in New York City. And I did love New York, with a fervor, for all of my adult life..
“So what is it about that place,” asked Anna, “that made you want to reinvent your lives out there?”
Nobody else had put it that way. In fact, few people even inquired why, after 8 years of splitting our time between Brooklyn and Dubois, we’ve chosen to give up living in the city altogether.
How to respond to Anna? She grew up in Italy and moved to New York City as a young woman. Like many New Yorkers, she has seen nothing of the west except California.
Most other neighbors just wished me well and said goodbye. I understood. Until recently, I too felt that choosing to leave New York City was simply not an option.
What could compensate for giving up regular visits to Zabar’s or Sahadi’s for your supplies of exotic nuts and olives? Who would want to lose the option to “order in” dinner from a Chinese or Thai restaurant, or to drop by the market and pick up a gourmet take-out dinner from the deli counter?
As the song goes: You just want to”be a part of it, New York NY.” You’ve been lucky enough to land in the coolest place on earth, and the buzz of the city keeps that knowledge live. Even if you don’t become “king of the hill and top of the heap” (and especially if you do), the simple awareness that you’re there is enough to render irrelevant the traffic, the noise, the high cost of living, and the many aggravations. .
My toughest moment was saying farewell at our church, which was like leaving family. In fact (definitely atypical for New York), that congregation was my most profound non-negotiable about moving away from the city. But when all else lost its luster, a beloved church home simply wasn’t a good enough reason to keep staying away from Dubois.
“I just feel I’m needed so much more there than here,” I said to my fellow parishioners at an almost-tearful last coffee hour. “And we miss Dubois so much when we’re gone. Please do come visit!”
As to Anna, we wound up not actually offering an answer to her question. It’s almost impossible to convey in a few words the way in which the joys of living in Dubois gradually overshadowed the reasons for remaining in New York City. I wasn’t going to pull our my tablet at dinner and ask her to read Living Dubois. In any case, you really have to experience Dubois to understand.
Not for the first time, we urged her and Gary to come for a visit. Although they said for sure they would come, somehow we doubt they will.
My neighbors probably never heard this song, but I kept hearing it over the past few days:
They ain’t goin’ nowhere,
and they’re losin’ their share …
They must have gone crazy out there.
© Lois Wingerson, 2016
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