New York versus Los Angeles

There comes a time when even the most devoted New Yorker needs an escape.  These escape calls usually have triggers- one of them being seemingly endless winters with yet another blizzard on the way.  This hopeless New York lover was sick of heavy coats, snow, crowds, and public transportation.   An impromtu trip to Los Angeles sounded perfect.

March in LA can be hit or miss for warm weather, but leaving New York the day after a blizzard meant that no matter what kind of weather they were having, it would still be much nicer than the freezing, snowy conditions of the Northeast.  In addition, I was avoiding having to deal with ice and dirty gray leftover blizzard snow.  The SoCal weather ended up sunny and around 75-80 degrees for the entire trip.

The first part of my trip was spent doing some remote work; however, remote work by a pool in the Hills is a lot nicer than being cooped up in an office.  Most of my time was spent hiking in Griffith Park, chilling on Venice Beach, eating tacos, and laying by the pool.  I felt insouciant.  No obsessing over politics or work, plus I got a tan.

There was a point that I truly thought about not returning to the City.  Palm trees, sunshine, taking cars instead of the subway… it all seemed so leisurely.   To think of coming back to gray, dreary, snowy New York was sombering.  For the first time in many years, I was fantasizing about another city- and feeling a little guilty.  It’s a similar feeling of having a lull in your long term relationship, and then a hot, fun, new guy taking advantage of your vulnerability.  It’s those times that you make impulse decisions that you inevitably regret.

That’s why delayed gratification is the definition of maturity.  Feelings are fleeting- and whether it’s in relationships with people or cities, you can usually overcome a lull by reminding yourself why you were so in love in the first place, which is exactly what I did with New York.

Sure, LA has a lot to offer.  But New York is home to me, mostly because I love the way people live and think here.  Yes, it can be uncomfortable, crowded, and the weather is less than desirable a lot of the time, but New Yorkers are in it together.  It’s our shared space.  And as soon as the cab pulled up to my apartment in Brooklyn, I remembered that I am definitely in the right place.  This is not to say that LA is never in the cards, because it certainly is- but not just yet.

For now, I think I’ll keep New York. Spring is just around the corner- and the same thing happens every year.  Just when you think you’ve had enough, and the City is colder than ever, she starts warming up to you again…and there’s nothing like long walks through Central Park, day trips to the Rockaways, and romantic rooftop cocktails to renew any relationship.

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The Complexity of New York Favors the Clever

“By comparison with other less hectic days, the City is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience — if they did they would live elsewhere.”
— E. B. White, Here Is New York

People who move to New York are (or should be) ready for incessant challenges.  If New York is the Olympics, adaptability is the sport- and the ones who make it win the gold medal. The City is relentlessly trying to beat you at everything, and the clever find a way to to escape defeat. The not-so-clever usually cry everyday until they go back to where they came from… back to where life is easy, and cities are kind to their citizens.

Living in New York will make you fight for all things normal.  Need groceries?  Hope you practiced not having to make two trips to the car in your past life, because now you’re about to carry your groceries down to a packed subway and then for half a mile home. You used to heat your car up before leaving for work in the winter?  Now you’re going to be walking to and from work in 17 degree weather against wind and snow (uphill both ways :)).  These are true struggles at first– but you get yourself a collapsable cart for your groceries, and a really warm coat for the winter.  These are the easy ones.

Then you have the challenges that break the faint of heart.  One day you’ll have a huge presentation at work.  You’re up, you’re excited, you’re early… and then the L train stops at Bedford– requiring everyone to get off for no apparent reason, no other train in sight, resulting in the MOST anxiety.  This could ruin everything; even if you make it to the presentation you’ve already lost your composure.  Then, you finally get close to work, and as you stop to check your phone, someone decides to water their flowers from a window right over your head, soaking your hair and ruining your make-up… (this actually happened to me).

This is the time you decide whether the City has beat you before 9am, or just given you an opportunity to outwit her.  The ones who win the gold get over their delayed train, fix their make-up, come up with a new hairstyle & witty explanation– and deliver the presentation.  If you don’t present, the City has won, and you have been and will feel defeated.  The more losses you have, the more likely you are to just give up.

The people who make it here are dreamers who love overcoming adversity, even if they don’t know that about themselves.  Generally, they do not seek comfort or even stability.  To them, comfort and stability are chains to a routine resulting in a mediocre life and a killer of dreams.

Perhaps the greatest way to overcome any obstacle, no matter where you live, is with a sense of humor.  After all, stories of adversity are the most entertaining.  People who tell them have the most interesting lives.  Nothing here is easy- learning the subway system, making friends, feeding yourself, getting to work… it’s all a struggle.  But if you can adjust, you will emerge on the other side a stronger, smarter, and more interesting person– surrounded by the most clever and fascinating people on the planet.

Adapting to the cold 🙂