If there is a palliative for living in New York City, it's an extended absence. I've just started my fourth week of exile, and I'm starting to get itchy all over. Just now I GoogleMapped my apartment building, just to look at my roof and see if I might be up there, sunning myself on Tar Beach. I feel like an especially creepy Internet stalker, with the added complication that I seem to be stalking myself.
Flitting among small farming towns was lovely and peaceful, but the peace soon became deafening. Those towns were quiet, as in sensory-deprivation quiet. The kind of towns where you place your toddler in the only diaper swing at the playground, and it squeaks so gratingly from disuse that locals at the Gas-and-Sip six blocks away prick up their ears and say, "Sounds like someone's swingin' on ol' Bessie!"
There were other cities, but they just weren't the same. Chicagoland is too sprawling, square-mileage-wise, and there are too many streets that are not named after numbers. Minneapolis is smaller and more manageable, but when you follow a certain cross street or other you can't be sure it will extend as far as you want because you will very likely run into a lake. That left the Happy Medium college towns, like South Bend (too manicured) and Madison (too cheese-centric).
I am comforted by the chill of San Francisco, while the rest of the country bakes. (The Junipers have been tremendous hosts, having picked me up at the airport and plied me with with a gorgeous stout microbrew sludgy enough to apply with a trowel.) But I still miss New York. I know I'll be back there in two weeks, coping with soot and strife and Schwetty balls. But I will be home, dammit.