What an unexpected affair.
Has it really been five years?
Five years of unlikely triumphs, unpredicted hurdles, and endless surprises.
I’ll admit, you still have my attention. I’m still intrigued, and I’m still in love.
These past five years, I have met some incredible people, have fallen in and out of love, jobs, and friendships alike — and still, through it all, you were always there, quietly witnessing.
You were there with me as I rushed to the W 4th St. subway stop in the rain, on the rare occasions I was late for work. You were on my mind as I typed stories during 3am news shifts in a windowless office on the Upper West Side. You were the song that played as I cooked dinners while sipping on a glass of wine from an $11 bottle that was deemed, at the time, a necessary ‘splurge.’ You eased my impatience as I waited for that first job offer, and you comforted me with the promise that perseverance, above all, would yield the greatest successes.
It was, and still continues to be, the quiet moments I have with you that have resonated most.
Like my weekend runs along the Hudson, my commute home — a short 15-minute walk west to my fifth-floor apartment — has become one of my most favorite times of the day.
I watch bartenders through restaurant windows, shaking cocktails behind candlelit bars. I imagine lingering there at one of those long marble counters, sipping wine, and being pulled by the gravity of a charming stranger and interesting conversation.
And most often on this walk home from work, I vividly recall the romance of it all: the midnight kisses on busy avenues, the stolen glances and missed chances at crowded sports bars on Sunday afternoons, the intimate dinners at chef counters — as he protectively draped his arm around the back of my chair and leaned in whispering what I already knew would be unfulfilled promises.
And always in these moments — the glossy hotel rooms, the foreign apartments, the dizzying cab rides, the Hudson river strolls — you stayed with me.
Even when he told me he loved me for the first time, I thought of you, and wondered if this would impact how I would feel about you when all was said and done.
In many ways, it was always you.
I’ll admit I still come back to you, even after short-lived first dates that dissolve into memory the way passing cabs do down avenues in the rain.
I’ll be honest that I’ve gone to great lengths to find someone who makes me feel the way I do when I’m with you.
And I’ve dated many. Because it’s conversation. It’s company. It’s traveling the world without leaving your barstool. It’s something to do, something to say. It’s someone new to meet, and perhaps think about before sleep.
And sometimes, on rare occasions, I’ll let the idea of someone take me away — out of my job, out of my apartment, away from you.
But I never stray too far.
On rare occasions, I may romanticize the idea of a relationship. But it never lasts long. And only when I’ve felt my happiness becoming unhinged by someone, I resolve to let it all go.
I walk home alone, feeling discouraged. In my mind, I may be tempted to revisit the places I went with him, the shows we saw together, and the streets we walked down where his hand always found mine even when it was buried deep in the protective pocket of my coat.
But then suddenly, I’m caught off guard by you.
I turn the corner and the Empire State Building is peeking out from Fifth Avenue, its clear white lights illuminating a starless sky.
The arc of Washington Square Park glows at the bottom of the avenue.
The light from tall townhouse windows spills out onto the well-traveled sidewalks where people walk, talk, and laugh.
Just like that, I’m pulled by your gravity, begging me to stay, telling me it’s okay.
Alone, I climb the stairs to my apartment, feeling lucky and in love.
Even after the heartbreak and disappointment, you always win me all over again, and make me feel whole.
So happy anniversary, New York. You are love of my life thus far.