I always said that it took me three years until New York City really felt like home, until I wasn't afraid to go out at night by myself. (It turns out, that fear was warranted, even 14 years in.)
I'm now approaching my three year anniversary in Los Angeles, and I can hardly believe it.
I can hardly believe that I had the cojones to quit a successful job as a Vice President and rely on $40,000 I'd saved up, originally intended to put towards the down payment on an apartment in New York. Once it became very clear that not only did I not want to buy in New York, much less even stay there, I decided to live off that money while I figured out what my next move would be - and, most importantly, where.
At the time, living claustrophobically and catatonically in New York, I set my destination as "anywhere but here." I applied for jobs in Boston, DC, Vegas, Minneapolis, London, San Diego, Los Angeles, even going so far as to apply for Peace Corps, which might've placed me in Central Asia to teach English.
That's OK, I thought, as long as it's not New York.
Luckily, the company that wanted to relocate me somewhere else ended up being located in LA, a second choice to San Diego for me, but close enough, and ecstatically in Southern California, about as far from New York as you could get.
It sure is different here. Good different, I always tell people.
Since moving to LA, I've considered two different job opportunities which would've required me to move elsewhere - one to Florida for a dream job in a new career, and one back to New York for a lateral move within my own career. Unfortunately, the dream job didn't choose me (though I admit being relieved not to have to move to Florida), but if I'd wanted the other job, the one in New York - even if I'd just said I wanted that job - it probably could've been mine.
In both cases, despite the very strong feeling that I do not want to leave Los Angeles right now, I had to consider the job itself and not the location. I didn't think I could dismiss either just because they were located in a place I didn't want to be.
Would I move back to New York?
Ugh, I don't want to. But yeah, for the right opportunity, I would. It wouldn't have to be forever. I would have to have a car, or make enough money to take taxis and car services everywhere. And soon enough, I'd probably be itching to leave again.
While I was back in New York for the holidays, part of me was trying to determine if I could live there again. And the thing is, sure, I could. It's easy to fall back into old routines - even bad ones. Familiarity has a powerful pull. Better the devil you know, and I know lots of devils in New York, including my own demons which would inevitably resurface upon my return.
But I don't want to. I love my friends, and the family that has adopted me. I wish I could bring them all with me, wherever I go. But as much as I miss them throughout the year, I don't want to go back to be with them.
And when I was in New York, I missed LA.
I missed my car.
I missed my apartment.
I missed my street.
I missed my new routines.
I missed unfamiliarity.
And I couldn't wait to get back to it all.
I think that's the first time that LA has felt like home to me. When I said it was good to be home, it was when I landed at LAX at 10 p.m. and balmy breezes brushed against my face and through my hair, relaxing every muscle.
As I waited for the shuttle to take me home to my apartment, I sat on the sidewalk in the dark and cried. I cried because I was tired after a six hour flight. I cried because, having adjusted to a time zone three hours ahead, it was my bedtime.
I cried because there was no loved one to pick me up from the airport, as there always is in Upstate New York.
But I also cried because I was glad to be back home.
Making It Anywhere?
Wanting the Want, NYC Edition