I sat on the floor with a single glass for water remaining of all my household possessions. In a few short hours, the apartment became the anonymous shell I moved into, my presence erased.
In New York, the city they say never sleeps, I sometimes doubted that existence. New York might not be sleeping, but how easy it is for its people to sleep walk through it. In truth, New York was at times the loneliest place on earth I could imagine, The desert is true to its name; so too the great plains or the frozen wastelands of the arctic.
These places conjure desolate landscapes - no people, no life. But where there is so much - perhaps too much - life, New York, and one's involvement in that life is too often limited to the arrival of your takeout, and a three second encounter with the delivery guy, it's hard to remember that you are part of the world at all. A life can be packed up or tossed out like an unwanted Christmas tree after twelfth night.
A million New York faces were always rushing somewhere. I passed them silently. They did not see me. Perhaps no one saw them either. Albert Schweitzer said: "We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness." I had to go home. I had loved Manhattan's brightness and mysteries with my husband, family and friends accompanying me on their trips from England. As a married woman living alone three and a half thousand miles from me, however, finding enough friends to fill the void and provide my nuclear support proved impossible. The support I needed was ready-made in another place, and eventually I had to give you up, beautiful Manhattan, for my home - where my beloved is - and leave you to your interminable lonely rushing, changing and searching.
Better, then to be on the move. Moving around with the (lonely?) crowds, hurtling or gliding imperceptibly towards something, and away from something else,
My sadness abounded. mixed with anticipation for a permanent reunion with my most missed husband, and my friends and family. Bittersweet. Many things I did 'for the last time'. Eating and drinking high on the list, I admit, but walking by the reservoir, seeing Chagall at the Jewish Museum, and visiting Moma and Bergdoff's. Even alone I found them as beautiful as always. And the style. Walking through the streets in my duvet coat and hat, I epitomised winter dressing for the average New Yorker. So much so that to my delight I was sometimes seen - asked for directions, recommendations, information. Apparently I must know. You just had to look at me to realise it.
I'll write a separate post of favourite food and drinking establishments - and of favourite places in general, I may never see my laundry server, Jeanie, again. I was leaving for London; she for Austria to be married. I don't know if I'll be able to get $15 manicures again, with only a small extra amount for the best back rubs ever. And I had my hair cut for $20 for the last time. I think that one's a dead cert for finality.
I ended my time with the best of Manhattan - with my friends. Le Bistro Chat Noir will forever be my last tango with Manhattan dining in that period of residency. No Anna Wintour, but pink Champagne and delicious lunch with my wonderful friends Dave and Kari. A lovely send off for the British woman who dared to dream of Manhattan. To them I say thanks for being true friends and supportive while I lived in Manhattan - and also for helping me up the restaurant stairs with my bags and into my last yellow cab for a while.
One final glass of Champagne at the airport and then home. Farewell and Au Revoir Manhattan. I hope that we meet again.