Friday, July 25, 2014

Give My Regards

My last night as a resident of New York City. The past couple of weeks have been stressful and tiring, and my experience with the movers on Wednesday just about did me in. What I thought would be a teary final walk-through of my Spanish Harlem apartment the next day turned out to be surprisingly unemotional. I was ready to close that door, and I did. Goodbye, SpaHa!

At this point, I'm ready to leave. I've loved living here. It's been crazy and fun and sobering and brilliant. It's the greatest city on the planet, and it will kick your ass. But then, my ass always needs lots of kicking, so, yeah.

What will I miss? Well, I guess, Central Park most of all. It's big, it's varied, it's iconic at every turn, and it's free. And of course, I'll miss being able to indulge my love of the most spectacular theater whenever I want (and whenever I have the funds). I've seen spectacular performances and the craft of all the folks it takes to put on a Broadway musical or play. And Times Square at night never gets old. Center of the known universe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, certainly; it's my go-to place when I think humanity is just a big ol' mess, a necessary reminder of what skill and a creative soul can accomplish.

I'll miss coming through Grand Central and the Chrysler Building on my way to and from work. And the little guy who hands out the free papers at the top of the stairs to the downtown bound #6 116th Street subway station. Ooh, and the wasabi ice cream from Sundaes & Cones on East 10th. And the Union Square farmers market, where you can buy the freshest of the fresh, as long as you get there before Danny Meyer and the other restauranteurs.

I'll miss my favorite scratch-off lottery games, Bingo Doubler and Cashword Doubler - they relieve stress and many times I win back, and then some, my $2 investment. And how will I get along without my all-time favorite meteorologist, Janice Huff, on the local NBC station (she sometimes pops up on NBC Nightly News)?

I'll miss living in a place that's liberal, progressive, and has a can-do attitude about everything. And contrary to popular belief outside of these 5 boroughs, it's the most American, patriotic city in the country.

I'll miss being in a place where just walking from Grand Central to the office on Second Avenue I pass every sort and condition of human being, every race and nationality, the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor and everything in between. The Big Parade does, indeed, go by.

And the history. Oh, I'll miss living in a place so important to the founding of this country - the native Americans, the Dutch, the British, George Washington and the Sons of Liberty, the first US capital, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, the immigrants and huddled masses yearning to breathe free, Harlem Renaissance, the Wall Street crash, the Times Square kiss at the end of WWII, Mad Men, Greenwich Village music scene, Warhol, Studio 54, 9/11. Try telling the story of the United States without New York City. Can't do it.

Still, it's time to leave all the marvelous things behind, at least having them close by 24/7. 

So give my regards to Broadway. Remember me to Herald Square. And Central Park. And the Met. You crowd, you cramp, you're still the champ, NYC. I shall return as a visitor. But now, I'm ready to get back to family and friends, cheaper rent for a much bigger place, wide supermarket aisles, all the trees, and a different kind of American history.

Atlanta, I'm coming home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Uprooting the SpaHa Rose

This is my last night in the little Spanish Harlem apartment that has been home since February 2007. Most of the major sorting/throwing-away/giving-away has been done, and now it's just me and the stuff of my life that will follow me back to Atlanta. Though I've contracted the movers to pack me up as well as move me, I'm spending the energy, what little I have left, to fill up the last of the boxes of the items I'd rather pack myself.

It's hard for me to believe that this time tomorrow evening, the movers will be hauling out my furniture, books, and assorted boxes. When everything's out of here, I'll head farther down the island to spend the first of three nights in a hotel and give my final-final farewell to the City as a New York resident.

Eight-and-a-half years ago, I had no idea if "I could make it there, I'll make it anywhere" in New York. I sold my Atlanta house and traded a comfortable, familiar life for a big adventure. There were so many challenges, but I took 'em as they came and soon realized that, hell, I could handle New York City. Some things were easier (getting around town via subway or on foot, the convenience of everything), some were harder (finding an affordable place to live, surviving the tourists). New York City and I became good friends very quickly.

So on this last night in my little SpaHa digs, I wax melancholy about the Metro North trains running under my windows and the loud Latin music blasting out as I come up from the 116th Street station in the evenings. I'll miss the incredible sunsets from my west-facing windows and having my own personal fire escape, though I'm glad I never had to use it. Oh, and being just 5 minutes from Central Park.

So. My last  night in 5B. No longer the rose in Spanish Harlem, but looking forward to reclaiming my Georgia peach-hood.

Now, back to packing boxes.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Required Reading

Because you should read it at least once a year. 

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Happy Independence Day 2014! Let the fireworks begin!