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Late in the summer of 2000, Biskit and I went with my family to San Diego for a week of surfing and partying. One night while walking back to The Surfer from Belmont Park, we came across two guys playing acoustic guitar on their porch in front of the board walk. They were really jammin’, one playing rhythm and the other playing lead and singing. Near the end of the song it hits me how cool they sound, and what a badass song it was (I had never heard it). It just kinda fit how perfect life had been and, made me want to go find another anonymous girl and tell her to “strip down, trip out at this.” At the end of the song after a crazy long break down, they just kinda smiled and picked up their beers (Dos Equis, the best), oblivious to us even being there.

For some reason that stuck with me. Walking away:

Me: Man, that fuckin’ awesome.

Biskit: Yeah.

Me: That song almost sounded like Dave.

Biskit: Dude, that was Dave.

The song was “Say Goodbye.” That was when I made up my mind to myself that someday I would sit in front of the ocean with a friend and play that song while drinking a Dos Equis. That is pretty much when I decided to learn how to play the guitar. If we had walked by, I would have missed the whole thing.

There are New York City moments, little things so unique to a city life that, regardless of their propensity to happen anywhere the required elements exist and regardless of their latitudinal origin, feel like something that Simon and Garfunkel invented. There's no inclusive list, no boxes to check but, looking back, a denizen of the city could rattle them off without taking a shovel to the years of dust covering the memories. They're the stories that we'll tell our kids when, sitting on a porch in the summer sometime in some suburb far removed from the streets we used to call home, somewhere with a forward-thinking school system and jungle gyms not separated from the sidewalks by twenty-foot high chain-link fences, they ask us what it was like.

I've killed a bottle of Stoli on a Sullivan Street fire escape that belonged to a freakishly intelligent and fantastically hot philosophy major under a light summer rain.

I've eaten sushi while sitting on top of a mailbox for the sake of the view.

I've cooked and served a picnic for two in Central Park, reveled in the showmanship of pulling a bottle of wine, a brick of parmesan and a cheese grater from a backpack while a band tuned up for Summer Stage, a concert I couldn't afford to pay to get into but that sounded just as good from the outside.

I've gotten fantastically drunk in East Village dives that no longer exist, bars so familiar and wonderful with jukeboxes so keyed in to their crowds that I never wanted to leave and, on some nights, decided not to.

I've given subway musicians twenty dollar bills because the music they were playing answered questions I didn't know I had.

I've found books on the carts outside The Strand that I've bought for a buck and sold inside of it for fifty.

Speaking of The Strand, I've worked there, packed and unpacked books in the swelteringly hot un-airconditioned basement, cursing The Man and trying desperately to be a Bohemian. I've been fired from The Strand too, and got a job with said Man, which I realized was a helluva lot better than actually working for a living.

I've written a lot and published practically nothing.

I've developed loyalties to hot dog vendors, to falafel stands, to street corner lo mein, to backroom indian restaurants that don't have signs out front.

And on and on.

But here's the thing: that was all years ago. At some point it stops being New York and it starts being a life like any other. Rolling papers make way for paperwork. Closing time makes way for happy hour. Claiming to be a grownup somehow morphs into actually being one. Living the city life turns into thinking about maybe writing a book about it some day.

I grew up outside New York and I came of age in it, and I think I'm done. The stories are old and tired, so close to a stereotype that I can't quite remember whose life, exactly, they represent. The City Life is an unattainable ideal - when I look around at the people who have influenced me here, I realize I've stopped saying "That's the guy I want to be" and migrated to a more perspective-heavy"what happened to him that this is where he's landed?"

Forty and claiming, over and over again like a train wreck, to do less coke than he used to. Contemplating which girl's name to get tattooed on his back. Going into debt to afford an Upper West Side apartment that he rarely sees. Embezzling money from her band to keep up appearances at her boyfriend's bar. Hanging out with a succession of friends so late into the night that they invite him to crash on their floor because he was embarrassed to have been evicted and didn't want to ask for help. Handing out flyers on the street for breakfast money. Pissing on the door of a bar that wouldn't let him in ever again after a night he doesn't remember.

I'm an adult locked in a playground, and I want out. And because I'm an adult, I can.

Loving New York is living it. Understanding it, knowing it, being a part of it, means knowing when to say goodbye.

I promise I won't hit the lights on the way out.

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