"Have you cried yet?"

My best friend and I always ask each other this on our birthdays. I didn’t cry yesterday. Well, I did, but it wasn’t like the birthday tantrums we are referring to. A friend told me they can’t imagine New York without me, and I’d had too much wine.

That’s been happening a lot lately. People being so nice. (Obviously wine drinking and crying is the norm.) It’s making me feel bad because I just haven’t been nice enough and I’ve been blaming it on New York. It’s probably because I’m leaving. It’s the energy shift. Big things always happen when you’re on the way to somewhere else.

So many people remembered my birthday, which surprised and flattered me. Facebook doesn’t even know anymore. I wanted to reply to all messages asking everyone how they possibly knew, but instead I said thanks. I’m bad at birthdays, remembering them and participating in them. I’m especially bad at my own.

Though yesterday I did well. A friend surprised me and took me to a planetarium exhibition narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s the only person who knows the full nature of my fascination with the stars and the universe. My friend I mean, not Neil, though Neil would understand absolutely everything. We lay back in the dark staring into the digital infinite. I mostly forgot Neil was talking. It’s been too long since I’ve seen the stars.

I can blame a city for light pollution but not for my bad attitude.

There will be stars in two weeks exactly, huge open skies. I’ve been constantly changing my story depending on my audience. Sometimes mid-way through. Reactions have surprised me, particularly the amount of negativity. A lot of mentioning of my age. I’ve taken to telling people it’s a twelve month thing, I’ll be back in New York for 2015. I should stop that. I know better. I know we attract our own fate. But I also don’t think it’s a terrible idea.

When I was coming to this holy-fuck-I’m-actually-considering-leaving-New-York idea I made so many lists. I found pros and cons that were interchangeable. I calculated every waitressing dollar I could possibly earn by Christmas. I questioned everything of course, my fiercely independent nature, my unhealthy (?) pattern of upping and leaving every two years. For a solid week I really truly doubted I could buy another one-way ticket.

But you’re the queen of the one-way ticket, my best friend said.

One late night in that manic week I made a list of all the things I own and won’t be able to take with me:

-Sheets and quilt cover (matching!)

-Guess Rain boots


- A wall hanging from India

-Space heater

- Seventeen hardcover books


- Bed

Two nights in a row I woke around 4am in a panic about the hairdryer. The thing was twenty-five bucks and I hardly use it. It’s just that I’ve bought three in the last five years and I don’t want to buy another three this decade. I’ve left behind a lot of Converse shoes too. I’ve had red, grey, white and black ones.

It’s not about the hairdryer, obviously. My hair is a mess. I’m an adult and I don’t own anything. Once I saw “beach-hair spray” in a shop. I calmed myself those two nights, grateful that I’ve never had to buy the beach in a can. I grew up near the ocean.

I was looking in a pile of useless stuff trying to find reasons to stay here. There are certainly big, great reasons to stay in New York. They’re on a separate list that I’ve hidden from myself. I can’t look at it again. I’ve already had my heart broken once this year.

I’m leaving a box of winter clothes with a friend here in his apartment in Astoria. My instructions are that if I don’t return within what he believes to be a reasonable time frame, he should donate the box to charity. He says I’ll be back.

I don’t like winter, that’s why I’m leaving. Things can be simple. When I told my cousin I was moving to Hawaii, she asked me what the goal is. I told her I just want to be warm. To feel good.

How does it feel to be twenty-one again? My editor friend asked when I told him what I was doing.

My sister sent me flip-flops for my birthday, the card said: here’s to warm winters.

I have nine summer dresses. I’ve already put them in my backpack, they don’t take up any room. I sold my bed for a hundred bucks.

You’ll always be that young free thing, someone else said.

Jennifer ChardonComment