If I never left, I wouldn’t know how to miss her.

Instead, here I am…longing for a place as unforgiving as she is magnificent. A place who can’t be understood by those who don’t know her. By those who haven’t lived (and loved) her.

I drudge up memories of the exhaustion, the frustration and the expense — anything to remind myself why I’m here and not there. The times of getting impossibly heavy bags of soil from 59th to 82nd street; attempting to use an umbrella in a rain and wind storm and realizing there’s no hope, I must succumb to being soaked all the way through; or being so cold I could see my breath because my landlord wouldn’t turn up the heat.

But what might seem like negatives to some, aren’t really. They’re just part of it. Part of what ties people…what ties me…to her so tightly.

She is where you can be you — any you you want. Anonymous or known. Young or old. Cultured or boring. Foolish or wise. Lonely or surrounded. Independent..that one’s non-negotiable. No matter what, she doesn’t judge.

They said when I left that I would miss her. I knew I would. As the days neared their end, I sat; I walked; I looked up; and I soaked her in. I tried to imprint her electricity in my memory. It’s a feeling that can’t be replicated.

Inevitably, memories fade. But the pull of New York never will.

The good news is, she’s not going anywhere.