New York, New York

Start spreading the news,
I’m leaving today. . .

Yes, it’s officially my last day on the job today. On Friday, we leave town.

There are some things that we’ll miss about the city. The selection of cheeses, for example. The law libraries. The restaurants. The bagels. And a hundred other things. Most of all, we’ll miss the friends that we’ve made here, as we’ve lived in the city for the past seven years.

There are also some things that we won’t be missing. The city’s extremely hardy cockroaches and rodents, for instance. The subway stations in the summer, as they slowly turn into saunas. All manner of strange people on the subways — odd preachers of unidentified religions, smelly wanderers asleep on the benches, the fellow who thinks he’s Jay-Z and raps along loudly with his iPod. And of course, cross-town traffic, the cross-bronx expressway, and those ninety-minute waits to pay the $1.20 toll at the New Jersey turnpike.

San Diego will be fun in its own right. There will be things that we don’t see in the city — ranch dressing, free soda refills, decent Mexican food. And warm beaches, of course. And the sun. We’ll enjoy those sights.

But we’ll still miss New York.

I’m not sure exactly where this is going, so I’ll close with a few lines from Whitman:

Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately and admirable to me than my mast-hemm’d Manhattan,
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg’d waves of flood-tide,
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight, and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest name as I approach;
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that looks in my face,
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you.
. . .
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! — stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small, according as one makes it!
. . .
Thrive, cities! bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers;
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual;
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

55 comments for “New York, New York

  1. Congrats on the move Kaimi. I’m sure you’ll be very happy in SD. Have fun with the kids on the beach!

  2. It’s only when you agree to give up some other left-side appendage that we’ll think you’re serious, Davis.

  3. Right about now I’ll take either place. Actually, I’d probably take Siberia – I’m in desperate need of a change of scenery.

    Congrats, Kaimi.

  4. I know I can’t wait to go back. If I had to pick between New York and San Diego, I’d pick New York.

  5. “You’ll be back. They always come back.”

    Joan Didion didn’t:

    “It was three years ago he told me that [we needed to get out of New York for a while], and we have lived in Los Angeles since. Many of the people we knew in New York think this a curious aberration, and in fact tell us so. There is no possible, no adequate answer to that, and so we give certain stock answers, the answers everyone gives. I talk about how difficult it would be for us to ‘afford’ to live in New York right now, about how much ‘space’ we need. All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore. The last time I was in New York was in a cold January, and everyone was ill and tired. Many of the people I used to know there had moved to Dallas or had gone on Antabuse or had bought a farm in New Hampshire. We stayed ten days, and then we took an afternoon flight back to Los Angeles, and on the way home from the airport that night I could see the moon on the Pacific and smell jasmine all around and we both knew that there was no longer any point in keeping the apartment we still kept in New York. There were years when I called Los Angeles ‘the Coast,’ but they seem a long time ago.”

    P.S. Good luck, Kaimi.

  6. Like gunnery at sea, Davis, you’ve got splashes both sides of the target. I expect a hit with your next salvo.

  7. Kaimi, you turophile you. I’m sure that there is good cheese in SD too. I think you’ll probably love it. I imagine SD will be a better place to raise kids, no?

    I can’t believe in all my travels down to New Haven I never managed to come and see you. Shame on me!

    Bless you and yours as you travel.

  8. How can you defend SD not having a large selection of cheeses?

    If there are lots of Mexican restaurants in SD, that must mean there is a large selection of cheeses.

  9. SD puts you closer to Cache Valley cheese. That’s Zion cheese. What more could anyone want?

  10. Kaimi, congratulations on the move! Don’t get your hopes up for warm beaches, though: the Pacific is always chilly, and for much of the summer the coast is blanketed in the marine layer (of cloud). But you’re moving to a great place. I’m homesick for SD almost daily (although probably as much for grad school as for the actual locale).

  11. Rosalynde beat me to the punch regarding the warm beaches and sun. Unless you are living east of the 805, the sun is rare until 2 pm and then it fades behind the fog around 3 pm. And the beaches east of the 805 don’t get much water.

  12. Kaimi:

    I’ll miss randomly running into you at the Cravath-eteria or in your office. Best wishes.

  13. John — Siberia is much funner to visit than Utah, but trust me. You wouldn’t want to live there.

    Steve — Quit your silly comments about New York, and move out to Seattle already!

    Kaimi — I swore I’d never leave California, but I finally did come to my senses and move up to Seattle. You will too, eventually. It’s only a matter of time. Besides, I hear all the cool bloggers are there.

    Aaron B

  14. Aaron Brown is quite right that all the cool (and wet) bloggers are in Seattle and Portland. I speak from experience.

  15. Lots of great things about San Diego–perfect climate, nice beaches, excellent Mexican cuisine, the largest model railroad museum in the world (my personal favorite), the San Diego Zoo (seriously, no other zoo campares), Sea World, etc., etc., etc..

    Oh! And one other significant detail — I was born there, in the naval hospital.

  16. Melissa,

    I cannot believe that San Diego would be a better place to raise kids. Than New York? Not a chance.

    Unless getting a drivers license at age 16 and being able to turn right on red are the determining factors!

  17. One correction that should have been made at the very beginning:

    When Frank sang those words that Kaimi quoted, he certainly wasn’t talking about leaving New York for some little town.

  18. Kaimi,

    San Diego RULES! I live in the welch’s old ward. Its awesome! The summer this year has been great. not much grey (except today).

    The only place that I would rather live is small town midamerica.

  19. all the cool (and wet) bloggers are in Seattle

    Nice! I picked a good week to visit Seattle. Aaron B, are you coming to the Bloggersnacker next week?

  20. We in the Northwest think Tillamook cheese is the best.

    I live in Seattle, does that mean I’m part of the “cool bloggers” clique? I mean, I’ve never been invited to be a permablogger, or even a guest blogger!

  21. It’s funny how even though I almost never post here and I don’t personally know Kaimi (although I’m a faithful reader of T&S), I feel sad about Kaimi leaving New York. Weird.

  22. I’ve been out of town (and out of internet access) for almost 10 days. I didn’t know there was going to be a Seattle bloggersnacker. Where and when was this announced? In any event, J. Stapely, email me your address, so I know when and how to get there!

    Aaron B

  23. Steve, are you really coming out on the 24th? Let me know your precise plans.

    Aaron B

  24. Er … I mean … Steve, I don’t think you should come out. Stay in the closet as long as possible, for the sake of the wife. :)

    Aaron B

  25. Am I the only person who thinks that the San Diego Zoo really, really SUCKS? I visited last year, and I was so bored, I wanted to hurl myself into the lion’s den or the monkey cage. Maybe it’s just that I forgot that I don’t like zoos generally (but I didn’t know this about myself), or maybe it’s that zoos are really meant for the kids that swarmed around me (and I don’t have any of my own), or maybe it’s just that all the animals were completely lethargic that day. Unless they’re going to use a cattle prod on the large mammals to make them dance a jig for my amusement, I really don’t see how I’m supposed to be fulfilled by staring at some crouching beast, hiding from all onlookers back in the furthest recesses of its pen. BORING.

    The Wild Animal Park was somewhat more interesting, however.

    Aaron B

  26. Kaimi,

    Congratulations on finally making your escape. Shannon and I miss New York City, until I think back to our living conditions in Harlem and the Bronx. We’ve been in Florida for the past year and man, can I tell you something, you’ll be ABLE TO DRIVE A CAR. And like park it. Of course you’ll still probably read the New York Times and look for bagel shops. But now instead of escaping on the metro north you can take a ride into Tiajuana, where leather and silver and bull horns are, with tactful bartering, just minutes away from purchase. You’ll also be in a ward where 70% of the people aren’t from Africa. Sell all, begin again all anew, box up the photographs and don’t look back!

  27. Now we can add to the cultural high point of being able to park the car the relief that will be ours to be back in the lily-white church of our youth. Ach, wie schoen!

  28. TJohnson, I’ve debated saying nothing … but that comment about being in a ward where “70% of the people aren’t from Africa” seems a bit mean-spirited. Is that something a person should be relieved about? I lived in a branch of the Church once where there were three or four families from Nigeria and Ghana. They were some of the best saints I ever met. They took me into their home regularly, made me meals and would ask me to stay overnight. It’s not that others can’t express that kind of love — but it was really something special and unique. I could only dream about being in a ward where 70% of the people are from Africa.

    Maybe I’m mis-reading what you are saying. But that kind of sentiment, a relief at getting a way from a certain ethnic demographic, bothers me.

  29. New York’s loss is San Diego’s gain. Welcome to SoCal Kaimi & family! In about three months you’ll be settled in nd have a map of all your favorite places to buy cheese. And once you’ve been to Coronado Beach, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Yeah, it stays foggy until about 12-1 pm, but it doesn’t actually get foggy again in another hour, and having a temperature of an average 78 degrees makes up for the fog. And the zoo is the best around. I spent my entire 4th to 5th grade summer there!

    Your kids will love it!

  30. Kaimi, I wish you the best on your move. You’re giving up the Manhattan temple for a very nice one in San Diego. As a native Californian now stuck in Miami, I’ve gotta say San Diego is one of my favorite cities anywhere. I’m sure you and your family will love it there.

  31. From those of us who couldn’t afford to live in either San Diego or New York…Congrats Kaimi, you wealthy word wrangler you. Don’t forget us average middle Americans.

  32. Re 45, 46. Sorry. That didn’t quite come out right. I realized it after I sent it. I think it’s actually a very special experience to be immersed in another ethnic culture. I also think that crossing over ethnic boundaries to form true, lasting friendships with people from other cultures requires an extra effort that isn’t always easy. When I was a member of the Bronx ward, I was friends with many people there but didn’t feel like I could truly relate on a deeper level except with a few others. I remember once visiting a guy who was from Senegal. He spoke French, and when I visited him, he was living with four other Senegalese in a tiny, hot apartment. People kept coming and going out the fire-escape window. The guy was supporting his family from abroad, but to do so required him to work 13 hrs a day driving a taxi. I talked with him and one of his friends for an hour, and about the only thing I remember is his friend saying (in a thick French-African accent) that in times of war, there was no time for God. Well, it was a special experience to visit him, but it required me to go out of my comfort zone. And I never felt like we became easy-going friends. I guess what I meant in my post is that it will be a relief to find a ward where there are many people possibly of similar backgrounds that you will easily form friendships with. But I acknowledge the offensiveness of the comment, and also that such friendships are not more rewarding than those that cross cultural boundaries.

  33. Best of luck on the move.

    I’ve visited San Diego a couple times and it’s a nice place. I hope to see New York some time. But I have no desire to live on either coast. I’m perfectly happy living in the Intermountain West.

    There’s a wonderful spiritual and emotional aspect to the ideas of solitude and wilderness that are obviously lacking in urban New England and California.

  34. Seth,

    New York is not in New England. Neither New York City nor upstate New York–not even Buffalo. New York, frankly, is sui generis.

    I hope that you don’t live on the Wasatch Front, since that is no more wilderness than Long Island (and has the same architecture (tacky) and character (dull)). A friend of mine who lives in Queens and who never, until last month, had been west of the Mississippi, commented as we drove through the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley, that “It looks look the Island.” More damning words could not have been spoken.

  35. I said I like the Intermountain West. If I meant “Wasatch Front,” I would have said “Wasatch Front.”

    As it so happens I did live on the Wasatch front for quite a while. But my family did a lot of local travel so it wasn’t like I was stuck in the inversion basin 365 days of the year.
    I also lived in southern central Utah for a while (Richfield) during childhood.

    For the past three years, I’ve been living in Wyoming. And now we’ve moved to the front range of Colorado.

    I like the Intermountain West in general (I’ve seen a big chunk of it). It’s still open to possibilities.

    New Englanders already ruined their ecosystem, tamed their land, and worked out their community planning issues a hundred years ago. We’re still making it up as we go along.

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