Holy shit, SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED, y’all (I’ve decided can officially use that word now since I live in Texas). We MOVED all the way from Brooklyn to Austin, and whoa, a ton of stuff happened – so I’m catching you all up on it all starting… now. GO!
Ah, Brooklyn. It saved our sanity, moving from Manhattan to Williamsburg – living in a place with a real ‘neighborhood’ feel, living so close to our dear friends and musical collaborators, having a backyard and generally just a little more *elbow room* in a city of a billion – but it wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t, and I knew it, but until Tom & I both felt truly ready to leave or another option presented itself, we were going to stay. Our neighborhood certainly had its charms (like a killer vegan diner and the best bar ever within 2 blocks) even if life in NYC was, to me at least, obNOXious.
Ah, the MTA. One of the worst and yet most integral parts of NYC life. After one particularly sweaty ride on one of those way-too-hot-for-this-early-in-the-summer 90*+ days on the dear train in May, I walked into a meeting with my salon’s founders a New Yorker and walked out… not. You know how you just know when something is right? We’d talked about the new location they were opening in Austin, and among the options mentioned was the possibility of moving. Permanently. I didn’t say no, I didn’t say yes, but I did say I’d talk to my husband and get back to them ASAP. True to my word, the SECOND I got out of that meeting I called Tom, breathless and buzzy headed, word vomiting the whole story out to him, not knowing what his reaction would be. Of course, as soon as I took a second to gulp some air he just said, “Let’s do it”. No hesitation, no doubt in his voice. It was a go.
So after more meetings, frantic googling of Austin rentals and weather averages, and hours of talking with Tom about how the eff we’d even do this, it was a go. We broke the news to everyone, we got movers, and we booked a goodbye show.
It was loud. It was magical. It was full of tears. We loved it.
And the countdown continued! We made a list of things we wanted to do before we left (ridiculously short – which means either we did everything we wanted to do in that city after 10 years or we just wanted to get the fuck out, not sure which), booked one last long trip to the CLE before I started my new full-time position in which I had no idea how much time off I’d get, and everyone bought flights for their ‘last visits’ too. Which meant we did a lot of touristy crap in the days and weeks before we left. That shit is easy to grumble about, but with a definite shift in how I was viewing my city now that I was moving, there was something beautiful about even the most obnoxious tourist traps. Central Park was greener, less cheesy, less cliché.
I was suddenly looking at my city through a very particular, softly bittersweet lens – a blend of a local’s love of their old stomping grounds and an outsider’s wide-eyed perspective of a crazy city so beautiful it seemed unattainable, impossible. New York will never allow itself to be held in ones hands, no matter how hard you try to grab a piece of it for your own. It’s an elusive thing, always able to avoid being pinned down or conquered, and the people who live there love that exact quality, whether they realize it or not, and will always be chasing it in some way. Neighborhoods change, prices fluctuate, buildings climb into the sky. You move apartment to apartment, switch neighborhoods, your favorite places close and open, seasons fly by at that breakneck NYC pace, and just when you think you have a handle on it all it changes again. I loved it, still do, and seeing it as a partial tourist for those weeks deepened that love in a way, but it also solidified the feeling in me that it was time to move on to something else. I was tired of running after something I would never catch. I, we, wanted to find something we loved and hold on to it for a while. New York, amazing as it is, would never be that place. Not for us, anyway.
It is beautiful, though, right? Anyway. The only thing left was to leave, and so, cue the goodbyes! Goodbye dinners, goodbye brunches, goodbye hugs and parties. Tears. Laughter. Snuggles in bed with red wine & Scandal with my love Maria. And plenty of karaoke! Shots with the tenoverten crew,
lunches with old friends like dear Dave,
a lovely little surprise goodbye party thrown by all of the wonderful manicurists at my salon with empanadas and snacks and caaaaaake,
and lots of ‘last’s. (P.S. Your eyes are not deceiving you, I have grey hair now. It was a whole big awesome thing that happened right in the middle of all of this thanks to my amazing friend Maria – I’ll tell you all about that soon, I promise! Now back to the story.) ‘Last’s like my last subway ride,
and these, our last soup dumplings, which are quite possibly our favorite food ever and will be deeply, sorely, intensely missed (and if anyone knows where one can get a good xiao long bao in TX hook a girl up and I will OWE YOU BIG TIME).
Did I mention there was karaoke? I’m a sucker for Korean karaoke, which for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of doing it is when you rent a private room and run your own karaoke per-hour with servers keeping you fueled with plenty of booze, surprising your friends with songs you pick for them and MAKE them perform (Candice made me do Memory *gag* and I had Tom do The Humpty Dance which he NAILED), and inevitably getting rickrolled at some point in the evening.
I cried all over everyone. Soaked my dear Daniel’s shirt,
wept all over Candice, Nick, and Phil,
and, at the end of it all, tried to take the subway home after the last goodbye party. Of course, New York, slippery minx that she is, had other plans. NEXT TRAIN TO BROOKLYN 31 MINUTES, LOL. DAMN YOU, MTA!
So we took a cab we couldn’t afford home, as one is liable to do in NYC, and cried on each other the whole way.
Speaking of not being able to afford anything, I of course worked up until the very last minute, which meant I locked up the salon one last time right before we packed and left. I had a very ‘goodnight, salon’ moment as I walked away from it one last time, with the moon and the Freedom Tower glowing above my head.
The next day, we woke up and it was ON. We had that one day and ourselves and our dear friends Justin and Vanessa to finish painting and pack everything I hadn’t sold or given away in time for the movers to come the next morning, and I won’t say it wasn’t stressful, because IT WAS. I think the cats were more stressed than anyone, though – at one point Peeber staged a protest by climbing up on the top of our storage system and refusing to come down.
Stubborn little guy! But he eventually got on board, and the next morning after the movers had come and gone and I’d broken my beautiful 5 foot tall floor mirror somewhere in the midst of it all (it was totally my fault, I was ‘helping’ *tear*), he got into his little carrier alongside his sister, along with all of our suitcases. We grabbed our very last New York bagels with a schmear for the road, and the only thing left was to say goodbye to our partners in crime, in moving, in music, and everything else, Justin & Vanessa. Commence (more) crying, although in this pic I’m acting like I’m totally fine and am not crying, which is a lie.
Literally 5 minutes after this pic was taken out front of our shitty old apartment building, we climbed in the car, took a deep breath, and pulled away. Now, EVERYTHING was a last. The last time I was seeing all of these sights that had become my everyday – the crappy, un-air conditioned laundromat, the overpriced but magical organic grocery store, the restaurant with my favorite fried pickles EVER, the bar where we’d celebrated every Cavs win and drowned every loss in whiskey, the park where we ran, everything. We were saying goodbye to everything as it flew by one last time, minutes into the longest drive of our lives.
I have to admit, once the tears dried from hugging our dear, beautiful friends, they didn’t return. We never looked back at the skyline slowly disappearing behind us, either. Goodbye to all that, I thought, and couldn’t help but smile. It was definitely time.
Next week brings the story of our epic journey – so stay tuned, cats and kittens!