By the time you read this, I will be gone.
I don't say that to sound alarmist, but through the magic of deadlines and working ahead, I'm writing this last week on the eve of my vacation to New York.
Assuming all goes well, I'll have spent the last several days rambling around Empire City and enjoying the finer things in life. Given that I'm a journalist on a budget, that likely will translate to drinking PBR, Dumpster-diving behind Sbarro and couch-surfing, but what's life without a little adventure?
It's been a little more than three years since I've been to the City - 'C' most decidedly capitalized - though I made several trips there growing up to visit family. My personality being what it is, travel can be a dangerous thing for me because I have a tendency to fall in love with cities the way some people swoon over every member of the opposite sex they encounter. (I do that, too.)
Say what you will about NYC -- and people certainly do, at length and at excessive volume - but it has an undeniable, infectious energy. Every time I visit, I become convinced that, at the earliest opportunity, I will uproot myself, toss my nonessential belongs in a storage unit and move there. By the time this publishes, I'm sure part of me will be itching to do so again.
As anyone who has been on vacations knows, however, the side of a city you see on a trip is quite different from the reality of living there. I'm no fool; I know New York would be an expensive and frustrating place to live. The difference is that part of New York's appeal is the challenge.
Struggling to surmount its learning curve is a test of mettle that has drawn countless thousands to the five boroughs. As Ol' Blue Eyes himself so famously sang in "New York, New York": "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere."
That being said, I may be getting older or I may simply have fallen for Chattanooga's charms, but I think I've reached the point in life where I can recognize a love affair for what it is and not over-romanticize it.
I'm proud to call Chattanooga home, and deep down, I think I'll be looking forward to coming back. I'm sure I'll fall in love with New York - temporarily - because it's such a beguiling place, but I'd like to think I've matured enough to realize that being happy with where you settled is not the same thing as settling for less.
See you soon, Chattanooga. I'll bring you back something nice.
Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.