END OF AN ERA: Last days in Brooklyn… A Great (Personal) Reset… Ten years, now what’s next?

So see here. Over these thirty-one years, I’ve had many different personalities: A horrible inventor, an edgelord full of bad questions, a self-supposed Cassanova, a mute emo, a minor-league YouTube celebrity wannabe, a bedroom punk rocker, and a romantic who came close to religious orthodoxy. I’ve called myself an eternal dreamer, a constant observer, and a frantic people-pleaser.

Perhaps I should have diagnosed all of this as deep-rooted anxiety, mild schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or any mixture of the three. I have spent the past three decades in the clouds. I liked it up there, but sometimes one has to come down to Earth, and I fear I stayed up a little too long.

Now, after ten years of living in New York City, I will move to the Boston area with my wife. We’ll save up our money, get a house and a dog, start a family, and live the suburban fantasy. But for that I must focus on real things, true goals. No more adventures with imaginary friends. They have their own lives too. (And you can bet I will still recount their missives to me from time to time… But they will not take place in fantasy worlds. No, they will take place in Crown Heights and Philadelphia and Ithaca and Los Angeles…)

When I first came to New York as a twenty-year-old weakling, I fell to the same hopes as all other young folks who step foot off the bus with two suitcases and a dream. I thought my internship at Jive Records – now defunct – would net me instant success, and that my skills in writing and social media mastery would get me a job with late night television and skyrocket me to financial and spiritual bliss. Ha! As if anyone would look at me, a wiry office jockey writing tweets and getting coffee in between doodling and scrolling through Tumblr on the company dime, and think I had the maturity or brainpower to make any executive decisions… But I still have the red guitar from Dave Bell, my old boss at Jive and now Head of Marketing at Epic Records. It seemed like an incredible gesture of goodwill at the time, and it still does to this day…

Throughout this decade, I have made many great decisions and mistakes while calling New York home… I have cried on many street corners, most famously (to me) the one at Williamsburg’s Grand Street and Morgan Avenue… I have visited many rooms in dingy Bushwick basements and West Village penthouses and Upper West Side mansions and East New York hellholes… I have puked in classy bars and gained applause in the worst of dives… I have undergone great personal changes in many 99-cent pizza spots… I have tried hard to shed myself of my past while not realizing that I was only carrying it further and with a terrible backache…

But now, as I pack up my fifth apartment, I feel that I have a handle on things, even though I know that handle will slip out my hands mighty fast. I begin this move up the I-95 corridor with more confidence and a clearer head, understanding the tasks at hand for when our ship settles in the Bay State. New York, the 2010s, my twenties were all a mish-mosh of fears and paranoia and drunk evenings and sleep-deprived mornings and general personal mayhem. I cannot leave this city knowing that the same behaviors will befall me. Now I must undergo a personal reset. No, I won’t get weird with it. I won’t become a Joe Rogan viewer or a spokesperson for the all-meat diet or a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals or – God forbid! – a telemarketer. But I must understand my responsibilities for a successful future, what makes me happy in the present, and what lingers from the past with which I must come to terms. It will take a long time to do this, perhaps ten more years. This, of course, behooves all of us; once we feel we’ve figured out where we’re going, we come to another fork in the road… I took the one less traveled by… Yeah, see where that got me at times, Frost?…

Anyway. I could go on with this, but I would bore myself. I have many things to do in the next several days outside of packing boxes and shipping well-loved clothes to Goodwill and throwing out a sunken IKEA couch. I must stand in the middle of Times Square and bother the tourists. I must take the No. 6 train to 23rd Street. I must get a watery cup of coffee from the Penny House Cafe. I already went to Chinatown to get my five-dollar dumplings from the unassuming shop on Mott Street, the blessed spot which helped me survive in my first wretched days in this city. I must sit on the floor and eat take-out with my wife and watch The Warriors.

I leave this city no better than I found it. The Mayor has changed twice in my time here and I can’t say Eric Adams will do any better than his predecessors; in fact, he already has done worse. (I see Big Bill from time to time in the neighborhood; he sits outside a local cafe in gym clothes and plans his next political move on his phone while his security detail gives me the Evil Eye.) Insane rent hikes and gentrification have priced out many of my old stomping grounds and those who used to frequent them. There is still crime, crustiness, and cynicism everywhere you turn, even if it has statistically gone down… This city will remain a strange and dirty place well into the century, and when I come to visit as a demented old man it will seem encased in amber, and memories will flood back to me, and I will become twenty-three again. I will disappear from my children who will find me hours later hanging from a light fixture in some Lower East Side hole-in-the-wall, and before they can catch me I will crash down and break my hip.

But as I leave, I feel that I’ve become a little better than that scared twenty-year-old. I can see him sitting on his unmade bed in his shoebox dorm room in the old George Washington on Lexington Avenue. He stares at the wall and tells himself it will be okay, that he will have a job, that he won’t run out of money and fail before he’s begun. I materialize before him and touch his shoulder and say – with the most evil grin – he will become unemployed, broke, and get thrown onto the street. As he ponders this, I fade back into this reality, pour myself another cup of coffee, and laugh to myself as I make my plans.