NOTE: This is a post from my old "secret blog," from back in September, 2008.
“Just remember that there are other places,” she says, “and other people live there, with perfectly happy lives.”
This is a quote from this New York Magazine article
If you don’t live in New York, your response to this quote is probably, “No shit, Sherlock.”
But if you do live in New York, your response is probably closer to something like this:
“Oh. Are you sure?”
The hesitance to believe that it is true (or even to think of it in the first place) comes from two underlying causes:
1. When you are in New York, it is honestly easy to forget that there are Other Places. Seriously. It may be a cliche at this point, but people both in New York and around the world refer to it as the center of the universe (or of x, y, or z), and after a while it sinks in pretty deep.
2. If you accept that there are Other Places, you question whether residing in those Other Places really constitutes living… much less living “perfectly happy lives.” Can one really be fulfilled without being on the cutting edge, without having access to all the awesome stuff in NYC? If you leave New York, don’t you just get lost in a void of fat, white Americans who live in boring housing developments and drink Bud Lite? Isn’t that the non-NYC version of “happiness”?
Even though the New Yorker cover above pretty accurately depicts my mental map (like, surprisingly and embarrassingly accurately), I think I’ve mostly moved beyond issue #1. I accept that there are Other Places, and that other people live there, and that I, too, could live there. But I admit I have a harder time with #2. If I were to live in another place, what would happen to me? What would I become? What kind of happiness would I find?