Leaving New York Never Easy
I Saw the Light Fading Out
I thought I was through with New York when I was 26. There were certain blocks I could not walk on. Not anymore. I was reading, like a mantra, Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That,” her classic essay on Leaving New York. I knew that she had been diagnosed with MS, and I didn’t know if that had something to do with this feeling that she described without describing it.
I no longer had any interest in hearing about the advances other people had received from their publishers, about plays which were having second act trouble in Philadelphia I would like very much if I would only come out and meet them. I had already met them, always.
There are some kinds of people who leave New York and then keep coming back, insisting they would leave if they could only figure out where to go, or they are here because their friends are here. I am one of those people, and the city is filled with us. Ambivalence is our brand. I am looking at a picture of young Joan Didion in her shades, like she’s sitting for a Warhol screen test. I imagine her listing all the neighborhoods she can’t bear in the voice of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s all so gruesome.