On Saturday, August 13, I left New York City. Ten weeks ago, I crouched at the starting line, ready to drink in everything the City would offer. And I fell hopelessly, foolishly in love. From brunch lines to High Lines, Broadways to subways, the summer of 2016 gave me everything: new friends; new experiences; a little 10-mile island that might as well be the center of the world. Teen weeks ago, I set out to drink in the City. Every moment since was shameless intoxication. 

Sadly, times goes on. My ten weeks expired. And yesterday, I left Brittany Hall room 708B on a collision course with the world I left behind. Am I excited to go back to school? More than you'd know. Did I lose sleep Friday knowing I couldn't wake up in Manhattan until at least next summer? Go two sentences back - I'll wait.

On Saturday morning, I woke up at 6am to sign a love letter to New York by running the length of Manhattan. Over 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 50 seconds, I ran 16.54 miles from Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx, all the way to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. On that "last hurrah", I saw it all: crippling poverty; humbling wealth; weed-cracked pavement; manicured medians miles long. More than anything, I saw a town built by millions moving as one.

When people ask me what I'll miss most about moving out, I spend a second reading their face. If they're expecting small talk, I feed them stories about brunch; about SoHo shopping. But if they genuinely care (and believe me, you can tell who does), I tell them this: I'll miss the heartbeat.

New York City has a pulse. She is an ecosystem - with ebbs, with flows, with a current as natural as the tides but built in concrete. And for a mere ten weeks, I was a part of that greater whole. I rode subway arteries; breathed Central Park air. 

Then, suddenly, I didn't. 

I'll spare you the "boats against the current" talk, but believe me, you don't know helpless until you fail to pack the highs you've rode into a cardboard moving box. I slept most of the car-ride home (I did just run 16 miles), woke up in New Jersey, and just felt amputated. For the first time since May, New York wasn't home. I was the other. The pulse was gone - but it hadn't disappeared. 

On Saturday, August 13, I left New York City. I don't think it'll ever leave me.

 

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AS RAKESTRAW | The personal site of Alex Rakestraw.