Can You Keep Up With This City?


"I carry the place around the world in my heart but sometimes I try to shake it off in my dreams." -F. Scott Fitzgerald on New York

November 17, 2011, Washington, DC: Last weekend wore me out. For the past few nights, I've come home from work unable to write and unable to think. New York is tiring.

But it's tiring for all the right reasons. In one weekend, we saw nearly twenty percent of our wedding guests, dined and celebrated with immediate and extended family, ran into an old friend at one in the morning, made treks up to Columbia and out to Brooklyn, and descended back into another hometown.

There are so many reasons to love New York City it's downright exhausting.

If we lived here again, could we keep up? Would our pace slow to a semblance of sanity if we didn't have to pack it all into a weekend? Or would the city still whisk us away?

The pace of New York was sustainable at one point. For several years, we kept up. We kept our eyes open in the city that never sleeps. We still can, I suppose; it just hurts more now than it used to.

Sure, I've changed, but the city has, too. In the most obvious way, New York has a more cohesive spirit now than it did when I moved away just three months prior to the events of September 2001. Between the city's cohesion and the many loved ones who've arrived since I've left, there's more of a pull now. More reason to stay up late. More reason to simply, well... stay.

And so it happens again, something we should recognize by now. After a few days in the thick of it, we think this is it. We think we could quite easily move back here among family and friends. Late at night over bagel sandwiches, we think we could return to this city, a city we never knew without basketball and Bernie Madoff, a city we haven't shared with Bloomberg and protestors pitching tents. We think we could fit in here in New York circa 2011.

And then morning comes and we are spit out of the Holland Tunnel to follow a long, slow, rainbow-streaked sunset back down the turnpike toward Washington, DC. We realize we're exhausted. We remember there's more out there. We know we'll do it all over again soon. It's a vicious cycle.