Updated: May 22, 2019
NY has its charms. And before it got too full of itself, it had class and character. As Edna St. Vincent Millay once said, "The presence of that absence is everywhere." I loved growing up there and the opportunities it offered. There was a time when an ordinary person could walk into a first class restaurant or store and be treated well. But that was increasingly not the case anymore. It was a somewhat rough and dirty town in those days. You could get up almost any morning and hear stories on the news about violent crime committed the night before, or garbage strikes, transit strikes etc. And I was tired of hearing the line, “You’re New Yorkers. You’re the toughest people in the world. You can take anything.” to excuse the latest problem. One day when the subway doors opened, a police officer and dog got off and I was treated to the sight of what appeared to be a pool of blood on the subway floor. One night I heard the sound of tires screeching and a crash outside our apartment window followed by the sounds of gunfire as the police gave chase. The crime was substantially reduced later by the police and the mayor taking a hard line, but at the cost of a corresponding increase in the number of complaints against the police for exceeding their authority. Today the police presence is further augmented by extensive use of surveillance technology.
My college years upstate had taught me that there were wonderful people living fulfilling lives in out of the way places. And the bottom line was that NY was just becoming too difficult to enjoy a good quality of life at our income level. It hit me one night that it was time to move when I was charged $5 for a slice of pizza.
About six weeks before our lease was supposed to expire we did some research and made a decision to live in close proximity to a city somewhere in the northeast. This led to a one week reconnaissance trip to Portland, Maine which resulted in renting an apartment there and moving from Brooklyn the next month with two cats, and my brother and stepbrother in tow to help with the move. I had registered with some temporary employment agencies which I believed would keep us afloat until our ship came in, which proved to be the case.
It wasn't easy going, but it continued to give me plenty of life experiences to bring to my creative endeavors.