Breaking Up With New York: How The City That Never Sleeps Lost Its Sparkle

by Nikki Vargas

I imagine leaving New York as a movie montage of a relationship ending flashing before one's eyes -- a kaleidoscope of all the wonderful and less-than-perfect moments strung together.

There are the memories of falling in love with New York on sunny days spent strolling down Park Avenue with all the wonder in the world reflected back at me from the glass skyscrapers.

On those days, I remember feeling invincible, as though every dream I ever had, or would have, was in reach so long as I kept pounding the pavement of the Concrete Jungle.

There are the memories of the bad days, when crowded subways, pushy pedestrians and long work hours had me throwing my hands up in total frustration.

On these occasions, the world was shades of grey as miserable morning commuters crammed into delayed 6 trains and the smells of hot garbage (New York's very own eau de parfum) wafted overhead.

The love affair I have had with this city can best be described as a love-hate relationship that has had the power to both attract and repel me. One minute it has me lamenting its work-obsessed, neurotic culture, and the next moment, it leaves me celebrating the spontaneous and irresistible nature of it.

Swapping stories of gargantuan rats, celebrity sightings, delectable meals, unsavory bosses and subway encounters with those of questionable sanity is a popular New Yorker pastime.

New Yorkers are all connected by a joint love and hatred for these crowded streets, soaring buildings and exorbitant rent prices; yet, almost everyone I speak to will end his or her diatribes with one irrefutable sentiment: There is no place they'd rather live. 

The first time I realized I had fallen out of love with New York City was during a trip abroad. Rather than feel as though I was missing the ongoing party that is Manhattan, leaving NYC felt like a breath of fresh air as the tightly wound knots of stress loosened up and faded away.

Rather than default on my New York training of rolling my eyes at a two-minute subway delay or getting testy with slow-walking tourists, I felt time become slower, schedules more fluid and my attitude more relaxed. I felt happy.

After that, I noticed an emerging trend where I would travel and become a happier, calmer version of myself only to come back and pick up my "New York baggage" at JFK and be instantly overwhelmed by emails, schedules, drama and finances.

That irrefutable sentiment of there being no place I'd rather live began to lose its luster, and I knew then that my relationship with New York had started to decline.

You see, my qualm with New York City rests in the mentality that infuses these concrete walls. In all my travels, never have I found a place to be quite so driven, quite so successful and, yet, seemingly so unhappy.

The city attracts dreamers the way Los Angeles does aspiring actors; all come here armed with nothing but determination and an unwavering passion to make it in the Empire State.

Yet, once the dreams are accomplished, happiness can prove allusive in a city obsessed with attaining the next best thing.

I have loved this city for almost four years now, and can still remember being a college senior in Indiana, playing Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind" and beaming at the thought of coming to New York.

I had always known I would live in New York City in the way that lovers know the moment they meet "the one." I remember the day I moved here. I just stepped off a plane from Paris where I had been living for three months, and I had nothing but my suitcase, a little cash and a good friend to defend the silver lining of my decision.

True to form, the city tested me and challenged me until I eventually realized my dreams and discovered that I found more happiness in the simplicity of writing and being abroad than I did of living in New York.

For four years, I have poured my heart into my New York relationship; I have managed to work in places I never thought I'd come close to, meet people who broadened my horizons and have experiences I could have never imagined.

Like most great romances, New York has taken me far from where I started and changed me in the best possible way for which I will always be irrevocably grateful.

The reality now is that the glitter this place once tossed into my path has long since worn away, and with it, my love for New York City has diminished.

As all the ropes that keep me in New York slowly unravel, I realize I have the opportunity to turn a new page and begin a new chapter elsewhere.

As I look to start graduate school in London, make the leap across the pond and focus on my passion of journalism, I know the day to leave New York is on the near horizon.

While my romance with this city wasn't one for the ages, as the quote goes,

Some love stories aren't epic novels, some are short stories, but that doesn't make them any less filled with love.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It