Whether it is 4 a.m. or midnight, leaving home is never terrifying when you know you get to come back.
Home is the place where all the roommates are gone and all the ripped off clothes have been flung against every single wall and it's a hurricane outside and you're laughing so hard and the beat-up furniture that had been left behind in 1980 has never looked so beautiful and your 1950s bathroom so bright and cute because suddenly someone you like is happy to be lounging around with you.
Home the place you run to when your heart is so broken the cab driver keeps throwing you tissues.
Home is the place where, after you wake up to in the middle of the night, uncertain and worried, you pray in until your heart calms down and hope returns.
Home is where your parents and your friends' parents, all raised in brutal poverty, got to go to school for free and then college for free and become the artists and thinkers and musicians that made the neighborhood exciting which made all the other artists and thinkers and musicians move here because home was a place you could afford the rent as you went out into the world to create amazing things.
Home is where you never go to sleep and when you look up at the clock it is 3 a.m. but you lost track of time because you got deliciously lost writing a story about what it was like to grow up in New York City, riding the train by yourself when you were seven or rolling sanitation truck tires down Columbia Street. And you look outside the window and there's a riot going on so you go downstairs to check it out.
Home is the watertowers and the smokestacks. Not trees.
Home is the city you grew up in, doing normal things like performing bluegrass in the subways and theater on the streets and demonstrating against wars and nuclear bombs and homophobic assholes and you could do it here because your parents and their parents and all the neighbors, everyone all made sure that's what you could do at home.
Home to millions of New Yorkers is the place they were born in, defying all the rules and getting to the point fast, and that's why in the movies when you want a character to be different than Barbie and Ken you give them a New York accent.
Home to millions of New Yorkers is the place they immigrated to with nothing in their pockets except their individuality and their dreams and goals and they got to make this city amazing because they could afford the rent.
And that's the reason New York is the center of the Universe.
Because it's home. Not to an expensive apartment or loft or luxury building with two entrances depending on your income, but a land where everyone is welcomed to the table. Including the people who, because they had affordable rents and could do all these amazing things, made it an amazing home for everyone.
After all, isn't that why everyone keeps moving here? Because of all those interesting people? Doing amazing things?
After all, if all those people weren't here, what would New York be?
I don't know what it would be but I can tell you what it wouldn't be. It wouldn't be New York.