Saying Goodbye 
 to Aida

May 21, 2023
Greenpoint, New York
Aida and Ghost

Aida left on a perfect New York spring day.  

We spent most of the day cleaning her apartment, preparing it for my friend Athena who was moving in. She gave me a magic eraser and told me to put my ADHD to use, so I sat on her stairs and obsessively cleaned all the marks on her white walls, my bum scooting down each step one by one as I finished wiping the marks off each section.

We sat in front of a plastic bin full of accouterments collected from a few years, like hair ties and cotton pads, and we sorted through the things she would bring with her to London, and the things that would be left behind on the sidewalk. Tampons without an applicator purchased specifically from Australia - keep.  Electrical detritus, macbook chargers - left on the street. I inherited a single orange wine cup, a Mac keyboard and magic mouse, and three tennis rackets. 


Aida lived with me and my ex-boyfriend in our loft for a year before the pandemic. It was Aida’s first place after moving here from Sydney, and we were only separated by a janky sliding wooden door with a huge gap between the edge and the floor. There was no sound privacy to speak of, and our year living together was spent waking when the other woke up, having takeout dinners from Hungry?, bickering, buying groceries, celebrating Persian New Year by jumping over candles on the ground, watching movies and consoling each other when crises (there were many) came by.

If it wasn’t for Aida, I wouldn’t have lived in my loft (my boyfriend at the time didn’t want us to live alone in that place without first sharing it with someone else), and she was present for the entire thing. Holding the 12ft ladder of a handyman perched at the top to install the disco ball on our 15ft high ceilings, hanging 16 NASA posters into a meticulous grid, buying plants, choosing furniture. I watched her bring two large suitcases in from Australia, drag them up the small staircase to her tiny lofted bedroom, and make a life for herself after never having left her parent’s home. 

    Then, I watched her pack everything back up to go to London. This time she has 6 suitcases. We had to put our full weight on them to be able to zip them up. 

While we were packing her life up,  it struck me that it felt so easy to completely erase Aida’s existence in this apartment in a matter of two Magic Erasers and a few hours. It felt impossible that there had been four years of building friendships, going to work, buying things, selling things, hosting, crying, laughing, everything done and experienced and packed away in iCloud photo storage and six bulging suitcases. 

There was so much to do the day she left. It felt like there wasn’t enough time until she needed to get into the Uber to go to JFK. I felt strangely calm, like I was about to see her again in a week or so, her Find My Friends icon  pulsing a 10 minute walk away from me at all times. 

I took some quick photos of her and her friends Lauren and Nina, helped transport her suitcases downstairs, we said our quick goodbyes, and then she was gone. 

I walked home with Ghost, and watched the shadows of the trees shimmer on the ground in front of me. I had a tote bag full of my inherited objects from the clean out. It was such a beautiful, still day, and one of my best friends had gotten into an Uber and left New York for good, the same casual way she came into my life four years ago. 

I walked and felt the tightness in my chest that comes up when I think about all the people who have left in the ten years I’ve lived in this city. I thought about Aida, and my other Australian friend Jacinta who left a few years ago, my ex boyfriend who moved back to Australia, too. One by one they left, our pandemic pod scattered across the globe, years and years of life together coming to an unceremonious end for me, a new beginning for them.

The heartbreak of living in New York is the transience of its inhabitants. To say goodbye time and time again, knowing it won’t be the last time you watch someone pull away in an Uber. Or the last time you inherit a household object that you will one day pass on to someone else when it’s your turn to watch the city recede from view. I can’t tell if it’s just a standard feature of the adult experience, or if it’s unique to this city, or something related to being in your late 20’s/early 30’s. All I know is that in living here, I am given endless opportunities by New York to be overwhelmed by the sensation that everything is changing so much, and so quickly, all the time.