But last week was so pretty, so warm, so sunny, I think to myself as I look around with despair at the tar-bottomed rivers that follow cars to intersections and flow over each other to swirl and twirl through the bars of the storm drains. My umbrella is shredded by the wind and my shoes are squeakingly acknowledging that they are waterlogged, as I miss busses and dodge cars to get to a certain room, in a specific hall, by a fixed time. Today is the first day of classes and, partly due to the relentless rainstorm, it feels like a world away from the sunny shining of campus during the post-Irene bliss of registration week.
I am running to class, late. And then I will run from class to a conference call for a summer job whose leftovers are spilling into my semester and whose deliverables, though once as tasty and exciting as my favorite sandwich from my favorite New York deli, now cling to my hands in slaps of soggy lettuce.
New York I love you but you give me a cramp sometimes. It’s not just your rain—which I could listen to for hours when my To Do list and mind are clear—but rather your ability to concentrate the bruising blows in the same week, mood, cloud. Rain by itself; no problem. A project that is behind schedule; let me help you fix that. Classes and homework and reawakening the writer inside; my dream. But add to that a deeper wondering about the authenticity of some friendships and whether I have made true connections here, and an upcoming birthday that I am loathe to think about, let along decide, book, invite, host. Add all of that to the puddles I try to jump over and don’t, to the conference call I’m dialing into, late, and the essays I’m struggling to write. And you meet my pain.
You do this to me once every while, Gotham. You have me question my intentions for moving here, evaluate whether any of those reasons have shown success—outwardly or on the inside—and make me ask myself if my commitment to you is worth missing the family births and birthdays, the rooted connections of childhood friends and the familiarity of my life on a different continent for. For seven years now I’ve chosen you; blindly, kindly and knowing that there are no guarantees; that the only promise is that there’s potential. And, now in my eighth year I find myself back at the beginning of the same loop. Like a marriage that sours and then sweetens only to sour again. Rinse and repeat.
And so the question that I find myself asking, again, is whether I want this next cycle of seasons—one more rotation around the sun—to be spent monogamously with my American home. The same city that I’ve been wedded to for nearly a decade now. Or have I possibly seen my last blizzard, feeling ready to return to the African sun. Cold feet about getting cold feet? I replay images of this past month—the raw beauty of a Harlem street with families sitting on paint-peeled brownstone steps; the sun setting spectacularly over the Hudson River as runners and bikers chase their ideal weight; the pure genius of a play about gay Harvard outcasts that touched a place deep inside—and I realize that, despite the mental wrestling and the storming anguish, this city is my home and that my whole being is engaged to and with it in an inexplicable way.
Do I, therefore, take you to have in wet days and cold? For better and when feeling cursed? Till death—or a flight from JFK—us do part?
I do. At least for one more year.