The End of Something (with apologies to Hemmingway)

I’m not a huge fan of people. In my life prior to moving to New York, my experiences with them were not what I would consider hugely successful, and like most people who just didn’t fit into the places they grew up, this city became my refuge. Here, I would define my adulthood, meet friends who will likely last the remainder of my years, and exorcise my demons amongst the countless others until I would end up a marginally happy, yet unfulfilled individual. I almost even had a love life. (Almost.)

But in the last few months, something changed. It’s hard to put my finger on what, exactly, but the city no longer feels like the refuge it once was. It didn’t truly hit me till I was standing one late night waiting for a subway at the 49th Street N/R/W station and a cockroach FELL ON ME from the ceiling. This place… isn’t working.

The city doesn’t hold many grand mysteries for me anymore. There are still a precious few neighborhoods I haven’t explored, but for the most part the excitement of living here has degenerated into the mundane. You know something has seriously gone wrong when the sight of Manhattan from across the river no longer fills you with awe.

And I don’t think it’s just me, either. With rent costs rising up to 25% annually, the mere prospect of living here has become a chore, a financial burden that’s started to offset the dreams and potential of the place. The high paying jobs are scarce, especially in entertainment fields. For those of us that dream of our future success, the prospect of paying close to a million dollars for a livable home for our future children seems more than daunting, it seems ridiculous.

Home prices are coming down, but they’re unlikely to come down enough to make much of a difference. The dream is dead, or maybe I’m starting to become wise to the fact that there was never a long-term dream in this city to begin with. For some time, I’ve been starting to appreciate spending time outside, and thought how nice it would be to have a veranda. And then I realized that I’m 28 and it is absolutely ridiculous that I should have to dream of having a veranda.

At this age, one begins to settle down, to want to get married and raise a family. New York City is no place to raise children (I’ve yet to meet a kid that grew up in the city proper that wasn’t seriously fucked up in some way). It’s not even a good place to meet single people; we merely keep to ourselves. I’m tired of the rats, the cockroaches, the way nothing ever seems new or clean, but worn and exposed and painted-over. I’m weary of the hours spent in sweaty subway tunnels, the endless crowds, the tiny apartments. I want something nice for myself.

I will never tire of the city’s energy, its cuisine, its colorful and lively inhabitants. But I think the time in my life where this place was for me has ended.  This city is what made me who I am, for better or for worse. I don’t really like the end result; I’ve become demanding and irascible and cold. As a friend of mine said tonight, “spend your 20s in New York, and your 30s in Los Angeles.” Trying to make it in entertainment, there really is no other choice. And it seems like a good one from where I’m at. Most of my friends are either out there, or are in the process of moving out there. Some are going elsewhere, but it’s hard to miss that very few of them are staying here.

I’ve decided to leave NYC with decidedly mixed feelings. I will miss the quiet after a snowstorm, the local flavor, the food. (Especially the food.) I’ll miss my neighborhood, the walks along the river, and not having to worry about driving drunk. I will not miss schlepping the groceries, the attitudes, the bad service, the gray winters or the broiling summers. I have a feeling I’ll be back often to experience all of these.

Now for the hard part: buying a car. And learning to drive (again). Dear God, what have I gotten myself into? There is no way I’ll be getting underway any time soon is there?


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