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Early this morning at JFK airport, I saw a friend on a plane to Singapore.

We'd only known he was leaving since yesterday-- he'd only known since the day before. Leaving New York, never to come back, leaving the Stern School of Business mid-semester, leaving Goldman Sachs and Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley interviews, all scheduled for next week. "Maybe I'll come back sometime as a tourist.." he said.

Dropping out of school. His father was dying-- has been for some while.

We started packing up his apartment on Lafeyette Street, but where do you start? Packing a year and a half of things that were so typical of a Stern student-- a flat panel monitor, those little cube speakers, accumulated Banana Republic clothes, a year's supply of creatine. Rugby uniforms. Economics books.

Photos from our Scholars trips to Madrid, and London. Pictures of girls, pictures of friends. From his service as a commando in the Singapore army.

Remnants of a life built in New York, and also of one continued in Singapore. Leaving, just like that.. never to return.

Most of us leave New York sometime in our lives--- some of us plan it, most of us don't.

I always had a perfect little plan in my head, for my life, which encompasses the lives of my friends-- We've been told that if we study hard, work hard, and hold our liquor, we're all going to be ok. Get good jobs, lead good lives, in New York.

Update: 3.06.2000. His father's dead, and he's coming back to school.
My bags are packed. The big black rolling one I brought when I came here so long ago and the huge, cheaply made duffle I bought on Canal Street for fifteen bucks. I hope the weather on my connection through St. Louis is good because this thing just might disintegrate upon contact with water.

I manage to waddle out of my building onto good old East 14th Street, carrying more than my body weight swathed in black canvas. I glance at Union Square Park that I loved, Food Emporium which I loathed, and that wierd artwork above the Virgin Megastore which frankly baffled me. Like a phantasmagoric blend of a volcano and a vagina, with a twelve-digit number above it on a digital readout, it was constantly changing.

My suitemate hails me a cab from Fourth Ave.
"Keep in touch!" (Please don't)
"I will." (I have no intention of doing so)

Going further east on 14th doesn't bother me. Driving along the river's edge doesn't phase me- I'm going home. I'm excited. On to things smaller and better.

The city recedes behind the rear window of my taxi slowly, like it has so many times before, when I came and went like through my bedroom door, always to return later.
To return later.

Sitting on the NJ turnpike I'm confident, though I did earlier violate the covenant I made with myself not to look out the rear window. I sigh and look down at the book I'm reading but not reading, and think about sleeping in my own bed. Think about seeing my brothers. And at least this way I'll miss the winter. My wardrobe is conducive to a place where it's seventy degrees all the time.

Fast forward to the point where I have been sitting on the runway of LaGuardia for two hours. I'm listening to upbeat music. I'm doing everything right, reading a comical book, eating a cookie, keeping occupied. And then, all of a sudden, hours after it was supposed to, the plane starts moving. The wheels leave the ground. The plane ascends and circles west, and that island, you know which one I mean, the one that's thirteen miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide, it starts to slip out of my vision like water slips between your fingers. I had it in the palm of my hands: homework in Central Park, weekend evenings at Limelight, that one breakfast at Tiffany with my best friend from Boston, and I'd thrown it to the wind. I turned on the light switch and was surprised to find that I wasn't dreaming anymore.

The Empire State Building was red that night, as it had been for a couple nights prior. I pressed my face against the window and pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and blinked away the hot little tears that made rivulets in my powder, stifling any sobs or sniffing noises, which didn't really work all that well, as people kept sending me concerned, perpelexed looks for the remainder of the flight. A stewardess gave me an extra cookie with my dinner and smiled at me, obviously proud of the gap between her teeth.

I left the confines of NYC after living there for 32 some odd years. I had loved her and held her and was eventually left empty by her. She is the resplendent whore who is adorned with all the riches of the world but is riddled thru and thru with a petulant disease that infects all her true lovers.

How did I leave? I left on a plane with a friend, a cat, some clothes and a laptop. I left New York to live in a city I never set foot in on a coast I had never seen. The sun followed me east to west , setting over an ocean I was a stranger to.

How did I leave? I left alive. Barely.

I live in Portland Oregon now. I have not been back to New York in nearly 4 years. In all my life I have never been away from New York this long. I hope someday to take my wife and kids there to show them the city that raised me, educated me, then tried to kill me.

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