I went to a show last night, and it was one of those nights that made me feel like I should flee to New York once again.
Which is kind of a problem.
My New York story is long and complicated.
My New York story is short and simple: There was a girl, then there wasn’t. Then I lived in New York, then I didn’t. And the one of those things that filled me with regret ten years ago is not the thing that sort of fills me with regret now.
It’s been six years since I last set foot in the city, the only real city there is, despite my everlasting love for Seattle. For years, I’ve said it this way: Seattle is the lovely gal I settled down with, and New York is the one with whom it didn’t work out. I know why it didn’t work, and I have no regrets. I wish her all the best. But, every so often, when Seattle and I have a tiff, I think about giving New York a call and asking how she’s doing.
The problem, though, is that Seattle and I seem to be falling out of love, as tech money floods the city, making its way up the Hill into my neighborhood and turning it from socially conscious to sociopathic. A few days ago, I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year, who told me how she and her husband returned from their honeymoon in Japan to learn he’d been laid off from his tech job while they were away. Fired on his honeymoon.
LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You, but You’re Bringing Me Down” has been my New York anthem since halfway through the first time I heard it, as it encapsulates my many and complex feelings about the city. But increasingly, it describes Seattle as well: A place that was gritty and interesting a while ago, but where all the character left with the grime. The tales I’ve heard of this city’s grunge era (especially those from the fantastic Roderick’s Rendezvous events last year) sound like stories that would have come out of Times Square in the late 1970s, except with more flannel.
Once upon a time, my flirtations with elsewhere were fleeting and irregular. Once a year, after a shitty weekend, maybe. But they’re growing in frequency and duration, and where they were once about the idea of being in a particular other place, they’re now more about being anywhere but here. Anywhere but here, where I know people who make six figures a year, but still worry about finding a place with affordable rent. Anywhere but here, where my neighborhood feels like the only place in the country that’s become less gay-friendly in the last decade. Anywhere but here, where James Murphy’s words from eight years ago about a city 3,000 miles away feel as current as ever: “So the boring collect/I mean all disrespect/In the neighborhood bars/I’d once dreamt I would drink.”
Seattle, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.