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while I wrestle with lifelong personal issues, tell myself to "check the facts" and "finish the story," "I am important" and resist the shame, I must always remember march 14, 2023, when I went outside for the first time since being back from New York, and, after my jaw dropped, my heart swelled when I saw that Jason, this man who loves me so much, cleared and weeded my entire backyard, the stones slick from the march rain.


I write from the window seat in row 31, on this seven-hour JFK-SFO flight with no screens. “Everyone is so new-york pilled,” I complain to my mom over FaceTime at the gate. I can’t wait to get back to california, where despite the flood warning and 40 mph winds, the vibe is always good.

At the momo party, a nonbinary person who always wears very short crop tops and very low-rise baggy pants gets defensive when I say that nyc is expensive. they claim to survive on a public school teacher’s budget by saying no to takeout and scouring the web for free things to do in NYC. I am surprised by how animated their defense is, this person from Denver, who said just yesterday the mountains were calling.

Amy says it’s all about mindset. She says that if your faith or conviction to live in New York falters for even a second, it’s over, because then you must confront the fact that you are doing nothing for no one by being there. I think of Catherine, so happy living in san Francisco, a boyfriend in berkeley, and how much she hated New York City, the city she is choosing to move back to in the fall.

in the summer, the trash rots on the sidewalk, steaming in the heat, piles of stinky black momos. In march, the trees hang sad and barren on the streets, but only in Brooklyn, where they are allowed to exist. I am left to imagine leafy sidewalks with staircases leading up to brownstones, smiling young people biking to cafés, convening in prospect park. in New York City, when it is 40 degrees in the sun, puffer-clad pedestrians exclaim that it’s a great day.

In the plane, I blow my nose, feeling for the other passengers who are about to contract my virus. My immune system is shot - after a week of not eating a single vegetable, drinking till 5am, and not encountering a single tree, my killer T cell count is low. My avocado and arugula bagel was coated in spicy chili jam, as if New Yorkers believed that the flavor of anything green was to be avoided at all costs. i longed for hipster congee — the other breakfast option. My remedial ‘eggs on vegetables’ at the cafe on wednesday morning had a single poached egg atop a bed of Brussel sprouts, peppers, and potatoes.

On saturday night, the bill at dinner was over $300. We ubered to Amy’s in bed stuy, then to paragon, where we had paid $30 for tickets to see jimmy Edgar, who never showed up. The vibe was bad, so we ubered to nowadays, where the vibe was good, and also cost $30. Then Jeffrey and I split a $50 uber home to Hell’s Kitchen. To go out in New York, you must temporarily dissociate, lest you come to the painful realization that money is a scarce and tangible resource. or, you live in Brooklyn.

In Chelsea market, I felt so suffocated I thought my head might explode. I felt a desperation enter me; I urgently felt the need to escape. Money, money, money. $300 for a spray painted jacket. $30/lb for artisanal cheese. Jeffrey tried to convince me to get $3.75 oysters - “on sale,” he says, thousands of dollars in debt. What I would have given for a sunny walk in golden gate park to clear my head. the only thing that gave me solace in New York was the trini doubles in bed stuy, filled with a comforting aloo chana mush.

I was never outdoorsy growing up - I feared the dangerous outside world, and perceived myself as having poor athletic skill, causing shame. But I don’t think I could live in a concrete jungle, or at least not without a defined purpose, like chicago for school. I love driving through the redwoods, skiing in the rockies, camping on the beach, and easy access to golden gate park and the ocean replenishes my soul. My mom says I feel this way about new york because I have a cultural affinity for the west coast, which is likely true. Whatever it is, I am a california girl at heart, and I can’t wait to be home.


At 9am, i stand in line at yuppie bagel waiting for my everything with scallion cream cheese. My red eyes droop over my h&m orange puffer, squished between my overstuffed herschel and my lifeless body. My suitcase, which just took the e from jfk, clumsily navigates the gutters of this tiny shop. Somehow i get to the front without my bagel. Everyone else behind me is already gone. I wait uncomfortably in a gutter after i pay, wondering what I could have possibly done wrong, feeling at odds with the city from step one.

At the urgent care, everyone is indian- the polite and overly friendly nurse, the handsome man that uncomfortably swabbed my vagina. I wonder if indians feel different in new york than in california, riding the cramped subway from jamaica in place of taking an evening walk around their sunset suburb.

Tmpl is a gay club themed gym with intense pumping edm and neon signs that say things like “look better naked.” I bike and stair climb for a meager 20 min each next to sweaty buff gays who work out like theyre on steroids. When i try to use my vip guest pass they hold my id hostage and force me to talk to a membership lady in an actual office. i tell them my address and they give me a wry look, to which i offer “im considering moving.” My lie hangs over the two of us, sits in the stillness of the musky air.