On my last night in New York City, I went to Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center. I decided to go after one of my dear friends, who had also lived in New York City for some time, relayed to me how she went there on her last night and just let her tears fall as she looked out over the city. I thought it was such a touching story because it captures just how much a New Yorker can come to love something as big and impersonal as a city; for anyone who lives here, it feels like one’s own for that space and time. And so, since I hadn’t been, I decided to make Top of the Rock my last-night destination, as well.
To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I got to the top. The views, of course, were breathtaking. But I didn’t how long to stay or go, and knowing this would be perhaps my last time looking out at the city as my home, I decided to just stay until I felt like it was time to leave. At first, I stopped at every peephole to take a photo. I sat down on the benches. I smiled at the security guards who watched me curiously as I paced in the sub-freezing weather.
But then, I just stopped. I looked out over the city, and I took a deep breath in remembering all I had experienced this year — walks in Central Park, packed morning commutes on the subway, nights out dressed up in bars, stories over 4 a.m. pizza — and when I could no longer take in any more air, I breathed out, thank you.
I did it again. A deep breath in — seeing New York City for the first time from a bus as a little girl, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, seeing the Statue of Liberty, feeling the energy of the crowd at Times Square on New Year’s Eve — and then I breathed out, thank you.
I repeated this over and over again.
I didn’t want to leave the night with any expectations of what would happen in the future — how New York and I would cross paths again, or what might have been had I stayed for a different length of time. That didn’t seem to matter then. I just wanted to say, with everything in me, the way I hope I always feel for this experience above all else: