The move to New York, in September, was a difficult one. I had packed up pretty much everything I owned in my Nissan hatchback and drove from Philadelphia to New York. I'd lined up an apartment on 112th st. between Broadway and Amsterdam, where I would share a place with a new faculty member at Columbia. I didn't really know her, had met her only once when I checked out the place. I didn't have any friends in New York although I had a few acquaintances. But the whole move was basically a solitary affair. Here's what I wrote:
Today was supposed to be the best day of my life. And it is, in some ways it is. After 16 years in this country, I’ve finally come home.
But it’s also the most bittersweet of days. The most bittersweet day of my life. This was today. As I drove on the NJ Turnpike, my emotions ran the gamut of sheer euphoria and excitement – to sadness and despondence. From hope for a new life to wishing my car would just veer off the freeway and I would die in some conflagration. Each feeling lasted seconds. Nothing too serious. But dusk on the NJ Turnpike (generally an extremely ugly stretch of America) was awesome. I arrived in this city alone. And that will prove to be the best part of all of this. I did it all by myself.
There's something odd about moving to a new place alone, without a goodbye (from the old place) or a welcome (to the new place). You really feel completely cut off from everything, completely free.
Anyway, what I listened to on my headphones that fall of 2001 was this song, over and over and over, as I walked in a dirty winter jacket, my Converse, crazy hair, chain-smoking cigarettes in the dirty New York winter winds, which later soundtracked one of my favorite movies of all time. Both the song and the movie on my mind today: