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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nostalgia & Gratitude

It's weird to live what used to be my normal life with the constant thought of whatever I'm doing is the last time I'll do it. Will this be my last drink at Annisa? Is this piece of sashimi the last I'll have at Momo Sushi Shack? Will I ever walk the Williamsburg Bridge again?

Then I get to thinking of all the great things I've done in NYC in the past... almost eight years now. And I just feel lucky to have ever done them at all.

I've been in Greenpoint long enough to remember the good old days of the McCarren Park Pool, before it was the disaster of an actual pool again. There was the time we walked through the park and heard live Modest Mouse through the speakers... then saw them at dinner. There was the time we sat outside the walls to listen in to Wilco because we didn't want to pay the (super small) admission fee. There were the summer pool parties where we'd listen to random bands and drink beer and watch people play volleyball in the pit. This was before they moved the "pool parties" to the waterfront, before the loads of security, before pets weren't allowed, before most the people there either came from Manhattan or the brand new luxury apts.

Down at Prospect Park, there was the time we brought a picnic and listened to the Met opera on the longest day of the year, watching the day turn to dusk and the bats fly overhead. And it was free! We went to Celebrate Brooklyn and heard an awesome mix of hip hop with Talib Kweli and Mos Def. We watched Enter the Dragon with the soundtrack dubbed over by a Brooklyn band. We drank beer in the shade to Blonde Redhead, we snoozed to Bon Iver.

There were art openings and random pop-up museums. Brooklyn flea markets that came and went out of nowhere. Smorgasburg every Saturday, with dozens of food vendors right on the water. Before it went all hipster-yuppy with kids and babies and strollers. When it was just dogs, lots of dogs. Pre-hipstocolypse. This past weekend I was shocked to see so many older men with SLRs that looked like they just strolled out of their brand new luxury loft and wanted to document this strange new neighborhood. They're becoming the new normal themselves.

Greenpoint alone has hosted so many great events. There was that day they had a mac 'n' cheese competition and everyone in the neighborhood went on a crawl to the bars and restaurants for a free taste. The annual Phil Collins Day parade on Franklin St. The random brass bands that came by Greenpoint Ave some nights, and all the windows lit up as elderly Polish and young 20-somethings looked out. The time local chef Cody Utzman was on Chopped and cooked the featured meals for us as we watched at the bar called TBD. The drinks we had at places that are no more -- Blackout Bar, Gypsy Bar, Veronica People's Club. The times we saw new piers and waterfront parks pop up, prettifying what was once empty and industrial. The time they filmed a tv show right outside our apartment and we thought some place was legit getting robbed. The mornings we woke up to the sound of whirring and looked outside to see hundreds of people whizzing by on the bike tour. The time I took a walk and found the Boardwalk Empire set, before it aired, before they blocked it off to the public. Watching Girls and wondering if life really does just happen to revolve around Greenpoint.

The classes! I've learned so much random stuff in NYC. There was the trapeze class where I learned to jump, swing, and latch on to a guy on another trapeze. Where else can you learn this circus stuff? There was the Italian cooking class where we learned a debone a rabbit, and the dessert class I took with the pastry chef from Eleven Madison Park. I mean, come on! I made a puppet at a puppet workshop by myself on a random Saturday because no one else wanted to get a Groupon with me, and I didn't care. Then there was the exercise. There were zumba classes, jump rope classes, pole dancing classes! Yoga in sunlit, hardwood lofts in Astor Place and in Williamsburg. The Punk Rope games -- where I came in first place one year! The Half Marathon, where I came in 18,000-something place.

The food. The bars. The rooftop parties. Dinner parties, brunch parties. Always new places to try, new people to meet, new experiences to have. We never had the same night out.

I'm about to trade all this in for a comfortable two-bedroom a mile off campus in Pullman, Washington. I'll probably have one or two places to grab dinner. There's one movie theater.

I could be sad to leave the place I came to experience for a year or two and ended up staying almost a full decade. I could be scared to move away from a city that both challenges me mentally and wraps me up like a baby. But instead, I just feel grateful that my 20s were spent experiencing city life. I grew and changed as my neighborhood did the same. Now I'm 30 and I'm moving out. It seems right.

I'm ready.

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