The Big Apple Break-up

It was me, not her.

From Central Park to Loring Park.

From Central Park to Loring Park.

OK, it was her too.

In a recent and popular (but apparently not yearly top-10 worthy)[1. It’s fine. Nobody likes Mel Brooks, anyway.] column, I was reminded that, in fact, I am not a native Minnesotan. I am a New Yorker, born and bred. A lot of Minnesotans, particularly the Jewish ones, are fascinated by this.

Specifically, there’s a Minnesotan admiration (albeit with a quiet, quintessentially MNice layer of reservation) of the New York Jewish ethos. Maybe it’s because of Woody Allen. Or Sex and the City. Or the sad state of bagel affairs here in the North.[2. For the record, I fully support the re-branding of Minnesota as the “North”, rather than the Midwest. A great article about this can be found here.]

But to my disappointment, people seem to fixate not on why I live here, but why I don’t live there.

It’s puzzling. Here are native Minnesotans, living here in our wonderful Twin Cities, many of whom have not even been to New York, struggling to comprehend how and why I could have possibly decided to live in the place they call home.

“Did you get lost?”

“Don’t you want to go back to New York?”

“Do you realize you look just like Seth Rogen?”

While that last question is mostly irrelevant, it does lead me to my next point: an identity crisis. I have one, but probably not the one you’d expect. You see, I do not struggle to fit in here. After all, I’ve been here for over 10 years. I folking LOVE Minnesota. My struggle is my lingering New York identity. The Big Apple can be a bitch after the break-up.

All I can say is, this picture was not taken at Brueggers.

All I can say is, this picture was not taken at Brueggers.

Imagine you dated a beautiful girl in high school. Her skin-deep beauty landed her a modeling contract at 16. She was your first girlfriend, your first kiss, your first… you know. You were both young and stupid and didn’t really know anything about love, even though you both said “I love you” all the time. You took each other for granted.

You dumped her and, believe it or not, found a girl that you liked even more. Maybe she wasn’t as glamorous, but she was into you, and you had way more in common with her. Your old girlfriend was obsessed with clothes and jewelry and fancy dinners and, generally, it was super expensive to date her. Your new gal doesn’t really care about that stuff; she likes board games and blizzards and Mickey’s Diner and sports teams that don’t win games. By the numbers, it’s about 25% cheaper to date her. She’s genuine and nice in a way that you weren’t used to, because you didn’t know any better.

But your ex-girlfriend has hit it big. She’s on billboards, TV shows, movies. She’s dated dozens of guys since you. You’re definitely over her, and you assume she’s over you, but her presence remains. You can’t avoid her celebrity. And the worst part is: everyone knows about your prior relationship. People keep bringing it up. They ask what it was like to date such a famous celebrity, and why you broke up.

“Did you get lost?”

“Don’t you want to go back to her?”

“Do you realize you look just like Seth Rogen?”

While the last question is still mostly irrelevant, the answers to the first two are simple: I didn’t get lost. I don’t want to get back together. I simply found someone else that I love. And not because she’s pretty, or famous, or the setting for Gossip Girl. It’s because she’s smart and sensitive. Genuine and funny. And because she’s the setting for Mighty Ducks.



Most New Yorkers, especially emigres, will admit that you never stop being a New Yorker. It’s in the blood; your worldview, attitude, and language will always be influenced by the City that Never Sleeps. Just like relationships, you never forget your first.

The Big Apple Break-Up wasn’t hard. It was necessary, and helped me grow in innumerable ways. When I discovered Minneapolis, I realized that a city isn’t defined on a billboard. “New York City” is just a name.

A city is a product of its people, arts, culture, restaurants, and neighborhoods. It’s the friends you make, the sandwiches you crave, the sunsets behind your favorite lake. Any city can be the object of your affection. Your city loves you back.

That’s what makes it a home.

And that old girlfriend? I’m pretty sure she’s dating Seth Rogen now.


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