When I started to tell my friends that I was moving to New York City in two months, I wasn’t really able to articulate why. I knew I’ve always wanted to. As cliché as it sounds, moving there was my dream for as long as I could remember, and nothing I said seemed to fully justify why I wanted to leave San Francisco so urgently. Only when I tried to explain why, did I realize that the fear and anxiety in my voice was reason enough that this was the right thing for me to do.
There’s an unexplainable moment in life where you feel like you’ve hit a wall. It’s realizing that every reason you try to convince yourself with to stay, to play it safe, and to be comfortable, no longer matters. You make a mental pro and cons list, and even this becomes a futile attempt to discourage you from what you really want to do. At this point in life, risk outweighs the comforts.
Moving across the country to chase these undefined “dreams” seems much more appealing than the opportunities offered at home. Why leave the SF Bay Area when it’s finally reaching its peak of cultural and economic relevance in over 150 years? I mean come on, the Real World is finally returning to us, and HBO’s “Looking” is totally a spinoff of my life as a gay twenty-something in SF.
Life. When I tell my friends why I’m leaving, I tell them… life happens. Not because I lack ways to describe how I feel… but “life” seems to embody the reason so holistically and concisely. The strange pull of unexplainable circumstances takes over, pulls you by the reigns and tells you “You gotta go. This chapter of your life is closed.” Of course, I’d be getting by like any terrified post-grad newcomer to New York City would: couchsurfing with friends until you get lucky and find a full-time job. But if living my dream means having to survive with that constant uncertainty of unemployment, couches, and hardwood floors, then so be it.
As Judith McNaught eloquently states, “”You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side bets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game or you don’t play at all. And if you don’t play you can’t win.”
Living off of one suitcase from couch to couch for months, being okay with working at a coffee shop or being a waiter at a local diner, is much more appealing and consoling to me than staying at a soul-draining suburb with no hope of escape and freedom to explore. New York City would give me that chance.
It’s worth saying good-bye to Philz Coffee and taking my last few bites of In N’ Out burger for a few years. It’s worth foregoing the comforts of having home-cooked Filipino meals everyday for cheap street food and ramen. We all have that dream destination in mind. It just so happens that mine is New York City, much like San Francisco is for many others. It’d be nice to listen to Phantom Planet’s “California” and become fondly nostalgic of the place I once called home.
My mom asked me the other day, “What’s so great about New York?” Not directly answering her question, I told her it’s where I needed to be. And sometimes, that’s the best reason anyone can have.
She was a bit sad realizing that her only son was going to leave her soon. Only then did it hit me that moving across the country was much more profound than I had anticipated: I realized I was growing up.