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  • Dear New York,

    I first caught a glimpse of you on TV. In your old movies, maybe I saw what I thought was you – an imposter of you – as a set on the movies Auntie Mame, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Plaza or Barefoot in the Park. Or perhaps it was during a Sunday morning replay of a classic Woody Allen film. Or maybe I was moved by watching that old Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park or the kids of Fame dance in the streets of Manhattan. Your iconic presence was all that I needed to heed your call to what I envisioned as the ultimate destination for artists and bohemians across the world.

    We met in the early 80’s, first on a family trip to your Goddess, the Statue of Liberty (even though I know that She’s really on New Jersey soil, but as a fellow Jersey Girl, I let it slide.) I listened to your voices; first through the music that my mother listened to: Barbra Streisand (from Brooklyn) and Barry Manilow (from Manhattan) and once I developed a taste of my own, through Cyndi Lauper (from Queens) and The Beastie Boys (from Brooklyn).

    The love affair from afar continued with another family trip to you, New York, as a teenager. We stayed at your Plaza, ate at your Serendipity and played in your FAO Schwartz. I even got my new nose in Manhattan with your Dr. Sherrell Aston.

    I knew I was destined to live in one of your cities when I received my acceptance letter from the Fashion Institute of Technology. At age 17, with the blessing and support of my parents, I packed up and left to be with you, New York. Goodbye Jersey!

    Boy, New York, we had so much fun together! We went clubbing all over town, you and me, New York. We enjoyed live music inside your lounges and outside at your parks. We went to all sorts of rallies and protests; we fought for women’s rights and clean air. We visited art galleries and museums, and then we combed the East Village and met the real artists. We got a job with a celebrity photographer. We worked backstage at second rate fashion shows, we worked as a photo stylist and makeup artist, and we raised money for non-profits for the better of our community by calling your people and canvassing your streets. We became volunteer staff for Earth Day 1990 and built a human wall in Central Park. We joined Wiccan covens with Jewish girls; we befriended Born Again Christians, Buddhists monks, and Catholics who converted to Judaism. We tried to get our Jersey friends to come up and convert to Manhattanism. We hung out with patchouli-smelling, barefoot Deadhead hippies outside the Garden. We painted an unsolicited wall mural inside someone else’s rental in Brooklyn Heights. We did all sorts of crazy things. We met people of all walks of life; our common denominator was our love affair with you, New York.

    In the late 90’s, I finally got wired as you introduced me to the Internet. I met people “on-line”. Approaching the 2000’s, my girlfriends and I joined all sorts of dating websites, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s where several of us met our future husbands – including me. In 2001 I began a ladies’ underwear company in Manhattan with my designer friend. It was my work as a fundraiser, however, that awakened my desire to take my jobs seriously, and I carved out a career as a tried and true development professional, eventually becoming a director at two non profit organizations. I got married in your city and moved to your suburbs. I gave birth in one of your historic towns.

    New York, you were my Factory, my life’s movie set, my soundtrack, my foundation, my inspiration. I never thought the day would come when we would part ways; I cherish the memories we share, New York. I will never forget your wild energy, your unstoppable growth, your cyclical reinventions, your boundless creativity and your eternal forgiveness. It is true as they say – that if you make it here, you’ll make it anywhere. Knowing this gives me the confidence to leave you for a new chapter in my life: Connecticut.

    Farewell New York. And thank you.

    Till we meet again,
    Shira
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