Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ten years, one month, and 15 days ago -- not so long, really -- I moved to Manhattan. Pretty much everyone who has ever lived here agrees: you either love it, or you hate it.

I love it.

It is an island that's huge, glittery, and awash in opportunities. The center of American commerce, media, publishing, and celebrity. The United States of America would, literally, be a second-world nation (like, er, France) without this city.

But as much as I love it, well... it's also expensive, dirty, congested, crazy... expensive... did I mention expensive?

Well, as loyal blog readers know, I've been looking for an apartment. And, as you know, I've been looking outside Manhattan.

What you didn't know -- nor did I, until a few hours ago -- is that Bradykins and I will be moving in a few days to another New York.

West New York.

Zip code 07093.

As in... New Jersey.

The funny thing is... I'm actually good with this. Really good with this. Our zip code, city, and state will change, but our commute will be roughly the same. Our regular haunts will see us every bit as often. We will double our square footage and be rid of... uh... urban pests. Read into that what you want. I may or may not decide to share later.

In exchange, we get -- as I said -- a lot of room; a ton of amenities; parking ('cause the Bradykins brought a car with him)... I'm finding it impossible to see a downside.

A few years ago, a few friends who had fled from Manhattan for Queens told me they had cried when they moved. No, really: cried! They really felt as if, by moving off a block of bedrock between the East and Hudson rivers, they had failed. "If I can make it there," and all that bullshit. And as if to underscore that, a few of my friends were, well, 'taken aback' (that sounds polite, and -- if it doesn't -- the quote marks will help) when I said we were looking at New Jersey.

But this move is all about me and Bradykins, and the life we're forging together. It's about lving like a grown-up as I approach 50 40 35 50. It's about wiping the slate clear, and starting anew... which you can do even as you're edging close to... uh... 50.

And it's not as if we won't both be back in Manhattan for 50-80 hours each week. We work there and play there, so no one will ever notive we're gone.

The fact is that I have made it in Manhattan over the past ten years. I came to this island in my late 30s as an Upstate New Yorker with good Albany connections, which essentialy meant I had to take a big bite of humble pie and start all over again.

I mean that literally... my first real job here was as an executive assistant making $35,000 per year, which required me to commute for two hours -- each way -- to Staten Island. Then, one year later, I took a pay cut to get out of that commute. Ten years later, I won't say that I've set New York afire, but I have a wonderful and fairly important day job and have had three novels published, so I think I've met the standard of 'making it' in New York.

And Bradykins has nothing to be ashamed of, either. After only nine months, he is making his mark on New York City. (Uh... those of you who have met him will totally understand...)

So... no tears.

Manhattan, I will always love you. You have given me the greatest challenges I've had to deal with, and I've met them. Perhaps you out-priced me, at least for now, but you haven't beat me or overwhelmed me.

I love you, you stupid island. You dear old, dirty town. My zip code may change, but my heart will always be with Cole Porter:

The more I travel, Across the gravel,
The more I sail the sea.
The more I feel convinced to the fact,
New York's the town for me.
That crazy skyline
Is right in my line,
And when I'm far away,
I'm able to bear it for several hours
Then I break down and say:

Take me back to Manhattan,
Take me back to New York.
I'm just longing to see once more
My little home on the hundredth floor!
Can you wonder I'm gloomy?
Can you smile when i frown?
I miss the east side, the west side ,
the north side, and the south side.
So take me back to manhattan,
That dear old dirty town!

Or, as Nikki Cloer and the girls from North Garland High School would do it:

We made it here. Nothing else to prove. Now it's up to you, West New York...