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New York City still feels like home.

It’s been more than ten years since I left, and I only lived here for five, but somehow, it’s under my skin.

Maybe it’s because it was my first. The first city where I was an adult. Where I had my first apartment. Where the utilities were in my own name. Where my furniture and my photographs and my band and my local bar all formed to create a life that was distinctive and my own.

Is that it? Do our first cities hold a special place in our hearts because that’s where we became adults? Or is it more than that?

I have no frame of reference. New York was my first. And then there was Berlin. And then LA, where, after seven and a half years, I still feel like a transient, just passing through. New York, though, is in my blood. It may be dirty and expensive and crowded, and the number of ATMS on every block may have tripled, but there’s something about it that I want to mainline. I walk down St. Marks towards Tompkins Square Park as if it was my own particular pilgrimage and those blocks — between Avenues A and B, between 10th Street on the north and 7th Street on the south — my Mecca. It never gets old. And it always feels like home.

It’s as if I could just walk over to that block on 8th Street and put my key in the door and trek up those stairs and my apartment would be there, waiting. As if no time has passed — or it’s just a weird time space continuum, and the tip of this time somehow is brought together with the tip of that time, like two peaks of a squiggly line — everything that has happened over the last ten years magically fading into a dream state. Was it ever real? Is this real? How old am I, anyway?

I don’t know why New York has this grip on me, if I’m destined to return one day to take another crack at a life here. I don’t even know if I want to. The rents insane, the life difficult, so many stairs to climb (subway stairs, walk-up apartment stairs, building stairs), but the energy. Wow. It feeds me.

There’s something about LA that’s very nursing home. Which is good as a writer, I suppose, because there are so few distractions. But New York has soul.