How does one say goodbye to New York? This year, it seems that many people I know, and many people I don’t know, are leaving New York. Some hint that it was the horrendous winter of 2015, the declining job market, rent prices, and love while other just need an excuse to explore the world. Such is the case with Ian White Maher, who after 11 years in New York is leaving for a sabbatical in India. His hope is to continue on a spiritual journey and work on a book. Everyone says goodbye to their respective homes in different ways. Some leave and never look back, others metaphorically take their home with them while others still part ways amicably as friends who wish to meet again. Maher is leaving New York amicably. His is a meditative farewell, filled with action, hugs, friend gatherings and a monumental walk; a way to kiss New York with his feet. On June 18th, he set out to walk around the perimeter of Manhattan with the following announcement on Facebook.
Today I will attempt to walk the 32 mile perimeter of Manhattan as a way of saying goodbye to the city that has carried me for the last 11 years and to reflect on the meaning of my time here. A walking meditation of sorts with a photo taken every hour.
Intrigued, myself and others caught glimpses of his journey in our respective news feeds, as images appeared on the hour as promised. With every photo, I wondered, will he succeed? It seemed such a long distance to cover in one day and Thursday, while it didn’t rain, was overcast and grey. A native New Yorker and frequent traveler, I find that I always love coming back to this city. Since most big cities are able to take on personages of their own, New York (definitely female) can be your best friend, your worst enemy and everything in between. She is both a babe and a bitch.
Spatial goodbyes seem to be the most poignant, where one allows themselves the freedom to connect with the land, in this case the concrete. Maher’s photographs, arranged in a photomontage, are above, one for every hour and a pause at a Keith Haring “Crack is Wack” mural from 1986. The best thing about our feet is that, if we allow them, they will take us places. Just remember to never stop looking.