Filed under: Main
Devin and I live in a charming little apartment in one of the most fantastic neighborhoods in Manhattan. We walk to everything - Central Park, Broadway shows, dive bars, excellent restaurants, movies, Whole Foods, shopping, and more. I have a simple, straightforward commute to a reasonably well-paying job that is relatively low-stress and moderately interesting. On the weekends where we don’t have plans, I drive to my Mother’s house in Connecticut, which is a quiet, relaxing getaway with easy escapes to woodland paths or suburban shopping.
In short, my cup runneth over.
My friends in New York find it understandably shocking that I am not always grateful for this bounty. What’s not to love about living in the self-proclaimed center of the universe? Why don’t I wake up the way Devin does, starry-eyed with wonder at living in the best place on Earth? Why don’t I see Manhattan the way my friends do when they come visit me from out of town?
From the time I was a teenager and first took the bus to New York from my parents’ house, I always thought of New York as the gold standard of luxury, sophistication and excitement. Until I was well into my 30s, it seemed to me that you couldn’t go wrong if you moved to New York. And, truly, if you have looks, or talent, or great wealth, or ambition, New York is the place to be.
But the inescapable fact for me is that my heart isn’t in it. Although I enjoy the people and the activities and the opportunities of my life here, I do not –despite the well-known slogan– Love New York. It reminds me of this really great guy that I dated about 15 years ago: accomplished, handsome, good-natured, intelligent, successful… and yet after our third date I could tell there was no spark, no chemistry. I still admire him greatly, but I was right that he wasn’t the one for me.
When I was younger, I firmly believed that we make our own happiness (or our own misery) and like snails, we carry that on our backs no matter where we go. I always felt that no place could make a person happy if they were miserable, or miserable if they were happy. Now that I’m older, I think there is truth to that idea, but there’s more.
There are times in life where you find a place that resonates with you, and suddenly the vibrations of your heart are in tune with the sights, sounds and smells of the environment around you. Being there might not solve anything or cure anything, but it has a natural sense of rightness. Whether you feel at home on a busy street corner, or deep in a forest glen, it’s hard to describe, but easy to sense, this “click” that takes place.
Let’s be realistic. Of the billions of people on the planet, not everyone has the luxury of finding this place. It’s not even a prerequisite for a happy, fulfilled life. In many cases, that place (perhaps a desert island, or a mountain top) isn’t even somewhere that a person could live. But the pull of it is visceral, and many stories, songs and dramas have been written to try and capture that feeling.
New York is NOT that place for me. I accept this. And while I can all too often sound grumpy, resentful or whiny about my life, the truth is that I’m deeply, remarkably lucky. My goal at the moment is to ensure that I live my days here with respect and gratitude and dignity, that I learn the lessons of this city, and absorb the sense of what it is to experience New York first hand. I won’t always live here, but when it’s time to leave, I need to be able to look back and be proud of what I did and how I spent my time here.
I’d say “wish me luck” but I already have plenty of that!