I spent most of my twenties being brainwashed and lied to. Everybody told me that living in New York was the best–nothing could touch its food, its culture, its opportunities–and I believed them. I believed them every day for the first three years I lived there. I fell in love with the city the way any young person does. Let’s face it, there’s no better place to be young than New York. Whenever someone tells me they spent their twenties somewhere like LA, I wanna cry and be like, “Babe, you should really ask for a refund. You got screwed.”
Going into my fourth year, I saw my feelings of love and admiration for the city slowly morph into resentment. I started to ask myself perfectly valid questions like, “How can I be spending so much money and still feel like one of the Boxcar Children?” Or: “Why do I really live here? Is it just because I really liked the show Felicity?”
The last two years I lived in New York were not so good. The thrill was gone, replaced by the sobering visual of yet another homeless person taking a shit in front of a luxury condominium. Still, I couldn’t leave. I was too busy drinking the artisanal $18 Kool-Aid in some annoying Brooklyn bar, thinking that New York was the only place on Earth and, OMG, I don’t really need to have an apartment with real living space or nice weather or make decent money. Why would I want any of those silly things when I can have really cool street fairs and AMAZING street corners to cry on???!!!
I tried to leave. I really did. But then New York would call me up and be like, “Hon, look outside your window. Do you see that beautiful rainbow sherbet sky I created for you?” and I’d be like, “Fuck you! You’re an asshole. I got called a faggot today on Second Ave and the L train never fucking came–” and then New York would be like, “Shhhhhh…” and I’d be like “Okay…” Then we would fuck for sixteen hours straight and order delicious delivery at 4am and I’d forget I was ever mad at him!
Sometimes the prospect of moving in New York is enough for you to move altogether. That’s what happened to me. My best friend/roommate wanted to co-habitate with her boyfriend, so I had three options: 1. Find a random person to move into her room. 2. Move into a new apartment and spend thousands of dollars on a broker’s fee and first and last month’s rent. 3. Move back to the dreamland of California, be close to my parents who will probs die soon, and drink delicious iced tea till the day I die. (New York’s was terrible, which means I didn’t have good iced tea for six fucking years!)
It took awhile for the last option to occur to me, which goes to show just how fucking cult-ish living in New York is. You think about leaving all the time but the idea of actually doing it can’t penetrate your brain! Luckily, I had the foresight to make an appointment with Reality. It was then that I finally saw New York for what it was, which is essentially Trustafrarian Disneyland with the occasional manipulative magic movie moment. I packed my bags and never looked back. Within a month of living in LA, I found an apartment that was half the price of my New York shithole, and landed a job that paid me a lot more than what I was making before. It was nuts! My life got instantly upgraded!
The one thing I’ve realized from living anywhere that’s not New York is that things don’t have to be so fucking hard all the time. I think that when you live in NYC, you believe that all of your suffering will amount to something great. But that’s just another lie you tell yourself to justify why you’re still living there. Also, New York has a GREAT fucking publicist. As long as there’s essays written about the city and TV shows made, people will come!
Of course, there are things I miss about New York. It is a great city. (Ugh, see? Residual Stockholm Syndrome!) But quality of life is important to me. It wasn’t when I was 21 or 22 or 23. I could sleep in a puddle of urine and as long as I saw Anderson Cooper walking around the West Village and a cute boy kissed me at 3am, I was fine. But that fades. As you get older, you want to be comfortable, you want to be secure, and there is NO shame in the “being cozy” game. Sure, there are a ton of bozos in LA and after midnight, the city takes an Ambien and goes to bed, but that’s a small price to pay for never ending sunshine and mountains and oceans and AFFORDABLE RENT. Let’s tip our (delicious, unsweetened passion fruit) iced tea to that.
P.S.: I know there’s a bunch of people who genuinely love New York and aren’t just being hypnotized, okay? Okay.