It is easy to see the beginning of headquarters, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me (though it was certainly not when Andrew Cuomo said the words “three billion dollars”), but I cannot lay my finger on the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and City Council meetings and rude tweets from people with rose emojis in their handles to the exact place on the page where the hero is no longer as optimistic as he once was.
In retrospect it seems to me that the days before I knew the names of all the state and city legislators were happier than the ones that came later, but perhaps you will see that as we go along. I never thought I would have to write this essay. And, frankly, I never thought I’d find myself writing a second Medium essay in as many weeks.
When this year started, I had no intention of leaving New York. Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial sense, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever offers you two-day shipping and a large library of streaming video for a low yearly subscription fee and never love anyone quite that way again. The way the subways run on time, with ample space to accommodate the people stepping into the 25,000 new jobs Amazon and I planned to create in the next decade. The way the city’s governor has been so kind to us, the same as he treats all small businesses and grassroots organizations. I’ll never forget the kindness shown to us by Amazon Cuomo — I’m sorry, Andrew.
A younger, less swole version of me — the version still eating a can of Pillsbury biscuits every morning before my soon-to-be-ex wife told me that was a bad idea — would find my leaving New York ridiculous. It’s New York. New York! Center of the universe, baby. Who would leave such a place? A place where an internet start-up like mine can find its feet, rooting itself in the community and nestling itself in the open arms of the best folks you’ve ever met. Have you seen the Amazon Prime original series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Winner of, ahem, four 2018 Emmy Awards? That’s New York to me. Have you seen Good Girls Revolt? Ah. Well, If you had seen it, you’d know that’s the kind of place New York is. Or, at least, the kind of place I thought New York was.
Of course it might have been some other city, had circumstances been different and the time been different and had I been different, it might have been Utica or Winnipeg or Richmond. In fact, now that I think about it, it is Richmond. But because I am talking about myself I am talking here about New York. That first night I opened my window on my private car into town and watched for the skyline, but all I could see were the wastelands of Queens. Hmm, I thought to myself. Good location for one of my two second headquarters.
At the beginning of this year, I sent all of our future New York neighbors a postcard wishing them a “Happy New Year.” I meant it. I really did want 2019 to be a year we spent in joyous harmony. Instead, I will spend it … not in New York. Because I am leaving New York. It has nothing to do with nervousness over increasing activism against moving. It has only to do with the fact that I, Jeff Bezos, feel I need to leave New York. I will be using my time away from New York to tend to my divorce, which our president said is “going to be a beauty.” You’re welcome for the postcard. I will never forget you, rest assured. And if I start to forget you, I will just tap into the Echo and Echo dots in your homes to hear your voices once more.
Author’s note: You can stream the first two seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the only season of Good Girls Revolt – it was cancelled by former executive Roy Price who resigned following sexual harassment allegations – on Amazon Prime. Monthly memberships start at $8.99.