There are two things in this picture that make my heart sink. Robin Williams. New York.
We lost Robin.
I lost New York.
Yes, I love Louis CK, but he’s alive and well and wonderful. This isn’t about him. He’s thankfully in the land of the living. Thankfully part of the fold that marches on despite the difficult currents.
Four years ago, my father passed away, and my love affair with New York City – one that had lasted my entire life – ended. I was born and raised twenty minutes north of Manhattan, in a bedroom community. New York City was the heartbeat of my life. It was always close. It was always alluring. When I became a career minded adult, New York City was the obvious destination. It felt like home, and it was for more than twenty years.
I always equate my feelings for Manhattan as a type of love affair. When I fell in love with the idea of moving to Los Angeles, it felt as if I had betrayed New York. When I found a job in L.A. and packed up my things, bidding farewell to my upper east side apartment, it was as if I was being handed divorce papers. My heart hurt. What New York really is – is a connection to the parents who gave me life and who eventually, through time and age, passed on. To stay in New York knowing that profound spiritual and physical connection no longer existed, well, it was hard to bear. Mix that in with general NYC fatigue, and you have a falling out with a location in this world – one of the only places I’ve ever lived.
I’ve been a resident of Los Angeles for four years now, and I’m ready to move back into the arms of New York, or one of his five boroughs. But this time, he’s fallen in love with someone else. She’s called money. High rent. I can come back, but I’ll have to deal with money – lots of it. So, the suburbs are calling me back…back to where I was born and raised, despite visions of an apartment on Riverside Drive bouncing in my head.
One month ago, the world lost Robin Williams. I’m still reeling over this. I’m incredibly surprised at my obsession with this man – a genius whose talent was apparently fueled by pain. I’ve read fan forums and twitter feeds about how absolute strangers miss him. I’ve been a follower of his son Zak’s Twitter feed, and recently saw a heart breaking tweet about how much he misses his dad, accompanied by a photo of Robin giving blood on 9/11. “He was so good”, Zac said. The replies that followed were lovely, sharing his pain, his hurt.
“I miss him too,” said one. “I miss him too,” said another.
Universal sentiments; however strange. His children, wives, family, personal friends – miss him. The comment of “I miss him” is too personal – too attached to a human that only a small crowd of people were lucky to have known as a regular person. But for those who are linking themselves in with a son who will miss his father – well, it feels close to an intrusion. It’s not like Robin was in their day to day lives, in the flesh, taking them to school, or putting them through college. He was likely not their neighbor or cycling buddy, production crew member or personal assistant. We’ll all miss him, but we’ll miss him being a part of this world. We’ll miss him on talk show interviews or new HBO specials, films and television appearances. I’ll miss new perspectives from him. I’ll even miss the frenetic, crazy comedy he blurted out when skirting questions, or trying not to connect too deeply lest one should figure out the mechanics in the brain, the hurt of the heart, the pain he held close to the vest.
What am I trying to say? I miss my dad, too. My dad was so good. I miss New York and am ready to begin the process of moving back in the next few years, ready to face a life in my home state without the constant of two humans who used to live there.
I’ve hung around plenty of comedians having befriended a few, and hanging around the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York where I studied improv. I’ve seen the darkness in which they dwell. So much so – that kept my distance for fear of falling in their well.
I will miss Robin Williams as a human being who only entered my life through film and television (sadly – I wish I had met him, although I did attend an SNL show he hosted). Mr. Williams held the key to a madness. He opened a forbidden door and walked in. Who knew his pain was so vast, so consuming? I think that’s what’s killing me