To my once beloved, did you know that I had the biggest crush on you since I was 13? All the romanticism and future planning that consumed me finally paid off and lead me to you. With each visit we would see each other, my interest would grow stronger and I couldn’t wait until the next time. I was elated on the day that you gave me the keys to a beautiful sunlit apartment that overlooked the 59th Street Bridge. We made such a lovey home there together over the past 13 ½ years.
Perhaps it was your spontaneity and unpredictability that drew me in. Everyday spent together felt like it was the first time that we met as there was always something new to discover. Whether we spent long afternoons picnicking in Central Park or had a quick tea at Le Pain Quotidian followed by a walk at the Highline, it was the perfect escape. I will always treasure our romantic dinners in which I would dress to impress while dining out at either our favorite sushi bars or cozy French spots ranging from the Upper East Side to the West Village. Saturday nights on the Bowery were always great fun filled with laughter and dancing until I couldn’t twirl any longer. And of course there was the occasional pleasure of sleeping in on Sunday mornings only to enjoy your gracious brunch invitation at Schiller’s on the Lower East Side or The Smith on Second Avenue. You always managed to read my mind when we would grab an authentic Neapolitan pizza at Numero 28 that I craved so very often…not to mention the delicious waiters.
You always introduced me to some of the finest collections of art and cultural institutions in all of the world. How I loved our visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection, appreciating masterpieces of antiquity along with magical performances at Lincoln Center. But when it came to the best modern and contemporary art scene, MoMA, The Whitney, and Chelsea Gallery hopping always hit the spot. You also gave me the unique experience of exhibiting my artwork as an emerging artist out of art school. One of my proudest shows was at the famed Hotel Chelsea, where my collaborators and I installed our paintings from floor to ceiling in one of the historic guest rooms.
How special you made me feel during our retail therapy outings at Bloomingdale’s, engaging in Fifth Avenue window-shopping, followed by the occasional High Tea at the St. Regis Hotel. None of these perks though came without a price. As a young adult, you taught me the reality of saving, budgeting, and paying my bills in order to support myself. Although these special treats added a positive element, practically always came first. With gratitude, you provided me with tremendous artistic and academic opportunities as both an undergraduate and graduate student. I had the duality of State and Ivy League education–a daily commute to the West Side, which paved the way for a successful career. Even though it was a challenging and demanding path, you pushed me to work hard and earn everything that I have based upon my own merit; professionally and personally.
But what I loved most about your charm, intrigue, yet constant support and encouragement is that you were always there for me. You didn’t judge me and watched me transform from an enthusiastic 18 ½ year-old girl to a determined 30 year-old woman. Despite long and harsh work days, relationship and dating ups and downs, seasonal to life long friendships, personal success and loss, followed by periods of fear and uncertainty about the future, you always gave me shelter—a warm place to rest my head at night that shielded me from the outside world. In the chaos of it all, home served as my respite. Whether we threw elaborate six course dinner parties or lounged on the couch after a heavy workweek, I always felt safe in your arms. But something in these past few years was missing and we started to grow apart. It wasn’t you…it was me.
As I changed and evolved, something inside shifted. As much as I have immense appreciation for making it in the most famous place in the world, it wasn’t the life that truly resonated. The same way my ancestors immigrated from Italy to Ellis Island where you welcomed them, I made a similar decision to move to my heart’s rightful home and you didn’t hold me back. You did everything possible to prepare me over the past four years for this life change because all you ever wanted was for me to be happy. And now I am as I send you a big kiss from the Roman Coast…un bacione.