Here

I don’t think we’ll be moving to Los Angeles this year. Are you surprised? Probably not. Debt problems aside, we had a breakthrough when it came to reality and realized that to build up to the dreams we’re working toward, it makes better sense to stay here. For now. Once you’re settled here in New York, you’re well stuck here—unless you have luck with a big windfall like a book deal or the lotto, or if you can borrow money from your parents, which, alas, we cannot and would not. So. We are stuck, and yet it isn’t a bad thing, not at all. There’s the part of me that felt relief that we could stay here longer. My parents worked in the city when I was a little girl (living upstate, we called New York City “the city,” as in the only one that mattered), and I remember the drives through Lincoln Tunnel, parking on the roof of the Port Authority and seeing the buildings spread out all around, the subway rides, the wanderings through the streets of Union Square while eating a steaming-hot knish… I was a mountain girl wanting to be a part of this skyline. All through school any chance to come down to the city I took. It had a romantic quality, the dirt and noise and smog headaches. A fire escape could make me swoon. How silly it all seems now, having lived here as an adult for nine years. Los Angeles looked fine when we visited—there were neighborhoods I could have lived in (because they reminded me of New York), and I could do it, I will, I’m up for a change. But the idea of a real city in my mind still means only “the city”—not boxed up in a car, not spread out flat and glossy and bright and happy. I always thought of New York as the only place that could hold my heart, but on a recent trip to Paris I had a thought. I could live there, if I spoke French with an understandable, not-laughable accent. If I could afford to pay rent and eat. It was my second trip to Paris and I have to say: I loved the streets, the buildings, the trains, the energy, the life. I also really, really loved the crepes. So, if you’d like to know the truth, I’d choose Paris over LA. If, that is, I lived in a fantasy world of riches where jet-setting across the globe, or across the country, were possible. My reality is a certain sunless apartment right here, in the only city that matters because it’s where I have to live. But outside my walls are the streets, the noise, the lights, the smog! Hmmm. Now I really want a knish.

3 responses to “Here”

  1. New York? Wow. LA? More Wow.

    Both of those are on the list I call “Cities I Don’t Care if I Never Visit.” Unfortunately, I have now visited every single one of them. I’ve never been to Seattle, and I’d like to, so I’m wondering if I should add it to the list?

    I’m interested in connecting with other writers. Your writing is very real, very personal and creative. I loved, “A fire escape could make me swoon.” Well, who’d a thunk it?

    Thank you for writing. It’s great to connect.

    Ann
    http://annojohnson.wordpress.com

  2. Your writing about New York is lovely — including that photo essay you did last week! I’m glad you live there. It’s a place that makes you happy and creative — and you like the food, not an unimportant consideration.

    Your post and Ann’s comment makes me think about how writers can work well in a lot of different places. (The trick is matching the writer with the place…) If you think about it, you’ll see that there are writers who are, essentially, the poets laureate of places — Joan Didion, for example, has many powerful things to say about Los Angeles. And Nathaniel West. L.A. is a tremendously interesting place, even if much of what can be said about it is not always going to be beautiful. But for the right person, it too can be an inspiration.

    But you, baby, are a New Yorker. For now.

    Happy writing weekend, BL

  3. I’d definitely rather live in New York than LA. I think I’d rather live ANYwhere than LA. (sorry, Southern Californians out there) I lived in the shadow of New York growing up in New Jersey – but we went to church there every Sunday, and my parents had both been born and grown up in The City, and it feels very much a part of me, too. Everytime I go back and visit, I think, I could live here. But somehow I don’t think it’s going to happen.

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