Rule number one: don’t be born here. Come from someplace else, anywhere else, and after a few years, feel yourself begrudgingly start to miss your family. Arrive in New York being like, “MIZZ INDEPENDENT DON’T CALL ME, I’LL CALL YOU!” and then realize, “Oh my god, my parents are going to die one day. I can’t live this far away from them!”
Become that person you never thought you’d be. Become that person who talks about having space, buying a house, making good money. Think about having a real life rather than, well, a pretend one. A life that’s not always living beyond your means and leaving you overworked and underpaid. Say things like, “I just don’t think I could see myself raising a family here…’ and actually believe it. Believe in “raising a family.” Oh my God, what the hell has happened to you?
Find yourself being unable to walk on so many blocks because of reasons X, Y, and Z. This is where you and your ex got into a terrible fight. This is where your old best friend used to live who you don’t talk to anymore. This is where you puked after drinking one too many margaritas. The city is small to begin with but now your emotional baggage limits where you can go even more.
Worry that if you leave New York, everyone will forget about you. This will only be partially true and who really cares anyway? It’s better to live for yourself than for the social life of a city. Parties can’t give you blowjobs. Work drinks won’t bring you Nyquil when you’re sick. The Met will not call you to ask how your day was. Still, feel a sense of failure. Feel like uou were just another person that moved to New York for a few years and left.
See younger versions of you all over the city. 20-year-olds moving into their first apartment with their friends, carrying giant blue IKEA bags and purchasing a bed frame at Urban Outfitters. “I want to decorate this apartment, like, really cute,” they’ll say to each other. “I want it to feel comfortable and home-y, not a party house!” Their eyes are sparkling, they are always hungover, and they are not you. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not New York has changed you, just talk to someone who has only lived here for two years.
That’s what this is all about: change. It happens when you’re not even noticing and then all of a sudden BOOM! You find yourself wanting different things. That’s what time does to you though. it reveals new things about yourself each day. You can’t fight it. It’s useless. You’re just delaying the inevitable. People, places and things make sense to you until they don’t and when that happens, you have to get the hell out. People might think you’re crazy but it’s actually the opposite: you’re doing this to stay sane.
Leave knowing that someone just like you is going to be taking your place. They’re going to drink the magic of New York until it becomes poison and then they might leave too. That’s just how things work. People search for magic until it dies and then they go chase it somewhere else. They chase it until they die or find something that sticks. Whichever comes first.