*Post originally written 4/23/2014*
Within a few minutes I will board my flight bound for Houston and leave New York City for the foreseeable future. It still hasn’t hit me that I will not be returning home to my apartment. I’ve done this little exercise countless times before and it just feels like one of my regular summer trips back to Texas - but this time it’s different.
Gate C10 at LaGuardia bustles and the smell of coffee permeates the terminal. Off in the distance the sound of a crying child pierces the air as a group of tourists, disembarking from their plane, yell and scream as they attempt to gather before heading to baggage claim. Officials dressed in bright red uniforms forge their way though the dense crowds of confused passengers and work as best they can to assist the elderly while simultaneously answering an endless barrage of questions. Peppered throughout, businessmen in suits calmly lounge in their chairs as they hold conference calls over their phones. I chuckle to myself. I had forgotten how nice it is to be at the airport and not have to worry about checking email or jumping on calls before boarding my flight. My god how it is relaxing.
I don’t even have my work laptop anymore, it’s all gone.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a multitude of “farewell” events with all of my friends, but I still can’t believe the time has come to physically leave the city. It’s been hard to say goodbye to my friends which have been so integral to my life the past few years, but knowing that I can still remain in contact online has made the process slightly more bearable. Regardless, I’ve officially closed out my life in New York and it is time to take my leave.
I am really going to miss this city, I have absolutely loved my time here and the wonderful people that made it what it was. As I sit here waiting for my flight I can honestly say that I’m not sad to be leaving. There is a popular quote by Dr. Seuss that I heard as a child, but never fully understood. It’s only recently that I have come to appreciate its true gravity:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
It’s a remarkably simple phrase, but one which sums up my experience thus far. I will forever be grateful and appreciative of the time I spent in New York City. It has been an amazing chapter in my life, and one which will not soon be forgotten. I am immensely thankful and overwhelmed with gratitude that I was a lucky enough to live in the greatest city in the world...
...and for that I can’t possibly be sad.
- - -
As the plane taxis out to the tarmac, the track Young Ones begins playing on my phone. We stop for a few minutes at the end of the runway while we await confirmation from the tower to begin our run; slowly the track begins it’s buildup and I can feel the excitement swelling within me. Once we are cleared for takeoff, we begin our run and the track continues to build. The plane quickly picks up speed and vibrates furiously as the engines roar - the feeling coupled with the music in my headphones reminds me of the massive subwoofers at an electronic music concert. The timing of the drop in the song almost perfectly matches the moment we pull up off the ground. I can’t help but smile uncontrollably while a chill of exhilaration fills my entire body.
As we ascend, I can see the island of Manhattan through my window. At this altitude, the innumerable towers stand as a tiny monument to modern civilization. It is a wonderfully sunny day and the light blue sky is dotted with large, playful cumulus clouds. The plane slowly turns to align its trajectory with Texas and the song You Got to Go begins playing. I’ve had this song in my library for years now, but the lyrics now hold a special meaning for me:
"You got to gather up what you need, you got to chose a direction, and when the moment is right for you, you got to go.”
Since take off I haven’t been able to look away from my window. Like a child, I sit wide-eyed and amazed that this is actually happening. This will be the last time I see the New York City skyline with my own two eyes for quite a while. Little by little the city pans from the right to left side of my window - my focus remains unwavering the entire time. Soon, all that’s visible is the Financial District with the glimmering World Trade Center Tower at it’s center. Several large clouds begin obscuring more and more of my window and suddenly it hits me - this is it. I smile and for the first time begin tearing up as the island slowly disappears behind a sea of white clouds. A fitting goodbye to the city of my dreams.
Farewell New York… until we meet again.