Saturday, February 14, 2015

City Love

Happy Valentine's.  To preface, a brief recap:

-I moved from UT to NY in 2003. 
-I started this blog which was a birthday present, in 2005.
-I left NY and returned to UT in 2014.
-I am still in UT.

I wrote this blog post a year+ ago (indented portion). Since then it's been sitting, forgotten in my drafts, and then I found it. As I am currently in the throes of mourning I thought I'd work on it and publish it for today. Seems appropriate.

I miss New York, bad. At the time, I always felt that it was awesomely unusual, but now that I'm away, living in a place where you're with such like-minded people so as to constantly be talking about the place you're living in is something I am now sorely missing. To live in a place that is as big, as palpable of a presence, a personality in your life as all your best friends and from time to time, worst enemies.

I now live in a place where no one cares about where I've lived, where i've been.  And maybe this has been true for my blog as well but now i'm just realizing it? No one really wanted to read so much about New York? This could be so, and it's ok if that's true.   But these days I feel like it's slipping away. It feels like a dream, that strange life I once lived that shaped so much of who I am.  Where it once felt so real, as each moment goes by, that feeling fades. And I'm afraid. I'm afraid if i don't talk about it, then it will be as if it never was.  And it is the sweetest kind of heartbreak I've ever experienced in my life. Other than with Sean and Julian, I would say it's the only time I've ever really been in love. And that love was real, long-lasting, and ran deep. It will never go away completely and I'm filled with such a deep gratitude and satisfaction, I DO know, actually, that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. And it hurts so good. 

Sean and I talk about it here and there, everywhere. Comparing and contrasting.  I told him the sad truth, "Sean, now that we're gone, we don't own it anymore. It isn't ours. We can't claim it."  I don't really want to believe this but I'm afraid it is true. 

Written in 2013 whilst still living there:

This may surprise you, but I actually have a lot of thoughts regarding an intense attachment to one's city.  I love where I grew up. It will always be a part of me.  But when I moved to New York, something inside, whose existence i had always had a sneaking suspicion of, was awakened and sprang to life. I attached to this city immediately.

When I was 20 I went on a trip to France with my sister which was awesome. Loved every second of it. Of course I loved everything about it-- every town, every place, every piece of food that went in my mouth, etc.  But I remember wandering about in Marseille or Paris, seeing people eat outside at a cafe and thinking, that is the life for me.

I remember driving friends to or from the airport and looking wistfully up at the sky and departing airplanes and thinking, take me with you. Desperate for an adventure.  I didn't know where, exactly, but I know that Big City had an awful nice ring to it.

June 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary of meeting Sean.  When I met him, I liked him immediately. Everything was easy. Sean told me he was going to Pratt, the art school in Brooklyn, NY, that fall. Well that's awesome, was my thought. And nothing more. My brother, who was friends with Sean, told me as a warning that Sean would be going to New York that fall, so maybe.. you know.. keep that in mind.  And not for a second did I think I wouldn't be joining him there.  And not for a second did I think I would be, because that would have been crazy talk, so early in the game.  Not like when we actually had the "marriage talk" which was a solid three weeks into the relationship.  Hey, I like to be sure.  But that's a story for another day.   But I think I knew subconsciously that Big City and I would finally meet, and it just felt right.   I expressed my excitement about this to Sean and, in an effort to defend and protect himself and his feelings, declared jokingly(?) "I am not New York!"      Yeah, yeah. Lucky for him, I liked him just about as much as I did the idea of living here. 
My fellow Utah resident, friend, and birthday twin Melissa spent some time in Boston and developed her own city love. One day upon her return to Utah she sent me the following message:

Sometimes when I let my mind wander I think about Boston. Not necessarily about the people, or the work I did there, but of the PLACE. And then I think - how is this possible? This level of love is almost impossibly intense, how can I be so emotionally attached to a CITY?

And then I think of you, and the way you can so satisfyingly articulate city love, and I'm grateful.

Thanks for making me feel okay about feeling so much.

  This sounds like a humble brag, also known as a backdoor brag. Oh, and she said something really nice about me? I hardly noticed. :) 

To honor this, and to pay due tribute to my grief, I'm going to do a series. It's going to be super boring. I know, after a while no one wants to hear it anymore. And you may hate it, and I'm sorry. But I just can't not. I'm not done yet. I have more I need to say, particularly right now going through this transition.  I'm sure that as the days go by, having gotten it all out will satisfy me and though I might always feel the feelings, I know that I expressed them at one point and it will be enough for me. But for now, a tribute to my grief. A series of New York things I miss, for a city I have loved, will always love. 


Mom Westwood said...

Jen, I love this post and Melissa nailed it when she said you articulate city love well. I mourned leaving San Diego for 15 years! I was born and raised there for 15 years and it took me the next fifteen years to accept Alpine Utah, and even claim to be from there. I love raising my family here, but there is so much a big city has to offer. I wonder if any of my children will ever have the desire to return with me and hear about what and where were important to me there in San Diego. In fact, my heart is now sad as I anticipate that no one will, and then no one will know that part of me.

)en said...

15 years! Ah! I'm so happy to know others know this feeling and that it might just last a long time. You may just have to show your posterity this side of you one day. Family reunion in SD? Thanks for the comment!