In an exciting turn of events, Marcus and I plan to meet in the next few months and find out how living together in the same country works (can I get a woot woot!). We haven’t yet agreed where to meet, but yesterday we narrowed our list down to three cities: San Francisco, Boston, and New York. Other cities were eliminated due to my fear of heat, being trapped in a post-apocalyptic situation too far from a coastline, or returning to my native, far-too-friendly Northwest.
Here are my thoughts on our top-three cities list, and I write them down only as an invitation to hear your thoughts.
1. In an arguable case of synchronicity, nearly every interesting personal website I’ve discovered in the past several weeks has been by a San Francisco resident. A favorite blog, I Love Typography, links to artist Jeff Canham. Uke turns me on to SARK. Urging each other out of Exeter and Suckallo using “Fight Club” rhetoric, Marcus introduces me to my new cult hero, Steve Maxwell. These are just a few: lately, every digital road has led to San Francisco.
I’ve only spent a day and a half there, years ago, when Seattle was still my gold standard for city living. Walking through the colorful streets of the Mission District, sniffing a familiar, seaweedy Pacific breeze, I appreciated a neighborhood that had Fremont’s liberalism, but on a larger scale. I’ve fantasized, over the years, that San Francisco may have the conscience New York does not.
On the downside, it’s far from here, I don’t know anything about the city or anyone who lives there, and it’s surrounded by Nevada, Oregon, and worst of all, the rest of California.
2. I liked what I saw of Boston two years ago, whilst attending an elevator conference with my boss. Granted, I cut the trip short by slipping my key under his hotel room door, sneaking off to the train station, and returning to Hoboken without a word to him. What can I say, I was alarmed by his habit of breathing heavily on me while I typed reports in his hotel room at eleven o’clock at night.
I realize that Boston’s not to blame for my choice of employers, however, and prefer to focus on its charming Common and historic homes. Boston is also young in population, a few hours from Manhattan by train, located in oft-picturesque Massachusetts, relatively close to the folks here in Suckallo, and according to Marcus, has a kickin’ indie music culture.
3. Third on our list is NYC. I’ve admitted in the past that I think about Manhattan nearly every day. On the plus side, it’s a short, direct flight from here, my Staten Island rabbit’s already used to the dirty air, I tremble with bliss at the thought of even standing outside the Met, and most importantly, I have friends there.
On the minus side, I’ve already left once, and it wasn’t easy. I cried on the flight from Manhattan to Seattle. I had LSD-style flashbacks even months later in England. I’ve asked friends to ready couches in preparation for my arrival two or three times. I talk about it all the time, usually with sentences like, “I don’t want to go back, but it is the most stimulating/cultured/important city in the universe.”
I left for reasons that I’ve written about often in this blog. Basically, I had no juice left.
The juice returned when I decided to go to Europe because I wanted to. It could be said that leaving the responsible 9-5 commuter’s lifestyle in favor of flying to Spain to live with strangers was what triggered the happiness I’ve continued to feel ever since, despite family turmoil, joblessness and distance from friends and Marcus. It could be said that, if I wanted to, returning to New York might be the perfect next step. But because of my history there, that step would be both easier to accomplish, and harder to justify, than steps toward new cities.
We’ll see. Marcus, my family, and friends will cast their votes, argue their points, remind me of past tears and future fears, inspire me with stories, and point out the ways location affects my biggest dreams. Marcus’s job prospects, my mom’s plans, and friends’ ideas may influence this decision heavily in coming weeks, as well. Meanwhile, I’ll stay open to synchronicity, listen in on the conversations of strangers at the grocery store (try it! you’ll be surprised what you’ll hear!) sell off even more belongings here in Suckallo, refine my resume, and wait for that inner voice that says, “Go on… buy the ticket. Try this city on for size.”
Because you know… happiness is easier to find than you might think, if you really want it.