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Bye bye, NYC: A different kind of ‘Leaving New York’ essay

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I can see pretty much everything from the terrace of our apartment in the complex that we’ve occupied in Forest Hills for 44 years. Cars and trucks surging along nearby Queens Blvd. Trains rattling by on the Long Island Rail Road. Airplanes swooping in or out of LaGuardia Airport. Everyone is coming or going, all while I stay put.

Except I’ll be staying put only a little while longer. In just a few days, I’ll be saying goodbye to it all. I’ll be leaving behind New York City — and almost everyone and everything I’ve ever known and loved here.

In case you suspect I’m quitting the city because I’m fed up, whether with crime or taxes or traffic or whatever — forget it. This is about family.

I’ll be moving to Italy. There, I’ll reunite — after living apart for more than three years — with my wife of 42 years, our daughter, her Italian husband and — the main attraction — our toddler granddaughter. I’m relocating from one former epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic to another.

Everything will be different: the food, the culture, the economy, the government, the language. How tough this adjustment will be I have no idea.

Currently I share a 20-floor structure with at least 1,000 other residents living either above, below or alongside me. The building is barely a five-minute walk from whatever I could possibly need: bagels, pizza, supermarket, pharmacy, bank, urgent care center, dentist, post office, basketball court, you name it.

I’ll be trading all that in for small-town southern Italy, where on any given day I might see sheep and goats being shepherded past. Exchanging a neighborhood where people often recognize me and know me by name to a place where almost no one will.

Question is, how do you kiss New York City goodbye? My exit strategy: I would embark on a farewell tour. Visit all the personal landmarks that conspired to make me me.

The life I’ve built I owe to this infuriating, exhilarating metropolis. My history and its history are inseparable. I wanted to bring back how much so.

* * *

I’m already running my victory lap in Forest Hills. That’s easy to do. I already live here.

In 1977, I moved into an apartment with my Brooklyn-born girlfriend, our first home together. Less than a year later, I proposed to her. Nine months later, Elvira and I became husband and wife. Soon came our son Michael and our daughter........

© NY Daily News

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