Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wanting the Want, NYC Edition

When I first moved to New York City, I never wanted to leave. Sure, I didn't have much money for travel, but I also couldn't comprehend wanting to go anywhere else when I had the whole world right here in my own backyard. The first ever vacation I took from my job at Atlantic Records, I stayed in town and partied on the Lower East Side every night. That was enough for me.

Eventually as my finances got better, a friend dragged me on a trip to Vegas, which is still surprisingly affordable. I went Upstate for Christmas and sometimes the state fair. I visited my sister in Ohio. I took my first business trip to Detroit, where I got hopelessly lost driving my rental car and nearly ended up in Canada on the other side of the Ambassador Bridge. I attended my five-year college reunion as a fat, unemployed alum; I attended my ten-year high school reunion as a svelte, single alum ready to party. None of those trips made me terribly excited to be away from New York. I always just wanted to come back.

I was always afraid of being away from New York because something might happen here while I was gone. I had the constant, nagging fear of missing out on an amazing party, a celebrity sighting, a natural disaster, or an encounter with the future love of my life (which would hopefully be a celebrity).

In more recent years, as my life fell apart, I looked for any opportunity to get out of New York. I volunteered to go on every business trip, attend every conference, necessary or not. I tacked vacation time - of which I had plenty - onto the beginning and/or end of every business trip. I took vacations to increasingly far-flung destinations, from Nashville and Kentucky to San Francisco, San Diego, and Morocco. After realizing that I would not be sent on a volunteer mission to teach English in Central Asia for the Peace Corps, last summer I spent an entire month in isolation in the California High Desert.

Mostly for financial reasons, I've been grounded here in NYC since returning from Tunisia, and I've gotten kind of used to it. Sure, I took a quick trip up to Boston to visit Jon, Upstate to visit Mike, but for the last few months, I've tried to settle in and just be a New Yorker.

All the while, I've been trying to figure out my next move, and I've assumed that it won't be in New York. I've begged for informational interviews throughout Southern California, and attempted to set up enough clients to set me up financially enough so that I could work from wherever I wanted to live. But as far as I've gotten, there seem to be powers working against me. I received a job offer in LA that was rescinded. I was a leading candidate for a position in San Diego that was eliminated.

Is this a sign?

I am still interviewing for more jobs out West, but as time goes on, I have this nagging feeling that, if I leave, I might miss out on something in New York.

What makes a person want to live in any place? Is it the place itself? Is it the job that they'll do there? Or is it the people they'll be surrounded by? Is it better to stay in a place where you might be romantically alone for the rest of your life, but at least you have friends nearby, and relatively easy access to family? Is it ever a good idea to go somewhere or stay somewhere for another person? But if you don't, won't you regret it for the rest of your life?

In truth, I want to want to stay in New York. So far I've refused to commit to moving anywhere except out of this tiny studio apartment with mice in the walls. But I don't know that I actually do want to live in New York. I don't share my life with anyone here. Then again, there's little evidence that I'll find anyone to share my life with anywhere else.

So do I go where the job is, wherever that may be?

Do I stay and wait for an opportunity to present itself?

Or do I decide to go somewhere else, commit to that place (at least for a while), and try to make a life there that I don't have here?

I think as much as I want to want to stay in New York, I also want New York to want me.

Whatever I say now, I reserve the right to change my mind. For the next couple of months as August and the end of my lease approaches, I expect that I will be a circling girl.

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