My Love Letter To New York

Dear New York,

My love. The only love letter I’ll write. I loved you since I first laid eyes on you and didn’t even know it. In the old VHS tapes of my first days on earth, my father zoomed in on the Empire State building, which we could see from our one bedroom apartment at the time, speaking Bengali to me in awe. Though hazy due to bad quality, yours is the only love forever immortalized from the time I was born to the day I’ll die.

I was four when I distinctly saw the Empire State Building, the lights were at new heights as I looked around on my father’s shoulders. I had never seen so many lights in all my life, and perhaps I knew then I’d stay here forever. That’s all I remember from that Thanksgiving Day, seeing you. I lived 15 minutes away, and saw you through the Meadowlands, the water tower, indicating town limits had been reached. Despite this, the short distance felt like home. Then I had to go.

I went to you only in times of necessity and escape. The frequent trips to Jackson Heights when I was 9 proved to be cultural necessity as we only went for fish and sweets. Fish was so important in my house, it was in my mother, my language, my home. The only bit of India my parents still had left was in the specific fish my mother needed, with spices she could only get from a small grocery store in Queens, and my father only liked to get paan from a shop window across the street. I hated these frequent trips, as they interfered immensely with my bustling 9 year old social life. What can I say, my mother really liked fish and my father loved his paan.

As I got older, my town, North Brunswick, suddenly had a huge Indian population, opening up Indian grocery stores and restaurants left and right. We didn’t have to go all the way to Jackson Heights to get fish anymore, something which now breaks my heart to think. I only got to see you during solitary breaks now and then, a chance of pace from the suburban lifestyle.

It’s junior year of high school, and I know I’m meant to be here. I have to end up here and nowhere else. I was constantly amazed by the things you promised, the hope you gave me, the inevitable pipe dreams. I’m gonna get out of here. The cycle of mediocrity, middle class parties, solitary sundays and sadness. I think of my life when I’ll be with you again, for real this time. I dream of $1 dollar coffee, subway rides, having a typewriter, late night Halal Guys trips, bars that don’t card and buildings with fire escapes meant for conversation.

Then it’s my senior year of high school, November. I don’t want my life anymore, it doesn’t belong to me. I want to disappear, I want to be with you. But I have talked about living with you my whole life, and according to Google you have to go somewhere obscure people wouldn’t think to look. They’d find me in an instant, you’re only a bus ride away and I doubt my mother would ever let me disappear into a sea of 8 billion people. I think you’re the key to happiness, when I’m with you it’ll all go away. In one year, I’ll be with you.

It has been a year since. I don’t think I’ve ever been lonelier. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know what true desperation was. You were supposed take it all away and save me from the villain of borrowed time, but my problems are still my problems. No place, not even you could ever solve them. Despite all the sadness, empty bottles, poetry, and post existential hangovers, I have never been happier. I wouldn’t trade you for anything else. I might take breaks from you, but I think I’ll keep coming back to you. I’d rather be sad than bored is what I tell myself, and there’s never a dull moment with you.

However in true Charles Bukowski fashion, I have to live my truth as he did.(I won’t drink nearly as much or be with as many women sadly). My truth is this: I’m going back to the place I used to resent the most, I have to. I’m working at Wawa (discount 7-Eleven for those you who aren’t familiar with it. Trust me it’s better), like I did in high school, except I won’t be dreaming as much about you as I used to. I’ll reek of cheap coffee, drive my car, look at trees, spend time with my mother. It doesn’t matter how much I love you, most days you won’t love me back. That’s not your job. It’s not the right time to be with you forever, but that’s okay.

Thank you for the most loneliest, saddest, happiest, weirdest and creatively fulfilled year of my entire life. We’ll just have to see how the rest of them go, and if you’ll ever love me back the way I want you to.

Love always and never,