I left New York eight years ago, for Tucson, and given how homesick I've felt for the desert in the last two years, I'm a bit surprised by how strongly I'm called by New York. Unlike leaving Tucson, leaving New York was an entirely voluntary act-- I was single, my job wasn't something I loved or planned on continuing to do, and I wanted away from the daily grind. I wanted to live somewhere easier, somewhere really different than I'd lived before, somewhere that didn't leave me quite as vulnerable to attacks of PTSD. And, over the years, when I remember New York, though I've had occasional moments of nostalgic longing, it's always been with a clear recollection of exactly why I left and an understanding that those reasons still hold. I made a life in Tucson, I found friends that became family, and I relearned how to breathe deeply.
I've seen New York after disasters, natural and otherwise, and as impressive an experience as the fortitude of her inhabitants is, it's not one that I need to live through again. I'm not as strong as she is-- I didn't shrug off the emotional impact as well as the city at large-- and I was worried that seeing the pictures of flooding and destruction and power outs, and all the wonderfully determined people that I know as my people-- New York is, in many ways, my mother country-- would trigger a panic attack. But as I've looked, what I've felt is a terrible sadness, and a longing for what I intentionally lost. I left my motherland, and I was glad of it. And now, years later, for the very first time, I honestly wish I could go back.