A reader writes:
Sorry to hear you’re leaving New York. I have to emphasize it was a massive blunder to live in Manhattan. I live in Brooklyn and love New York, but I dread going into Manhattan at all, and I would probably kill myself if I had to spend the entirety of every day there. Incidentally, to borrow your metaphor, I think Brooklynites in general look at Manhattan as a mistress too, one kept at a safe distance, since it’s more a Glenn Close sort of mistress (exciting but exhausting to deal with, and deadly).
The best stand up about the reason to leave New York City by the incomparable Patton Oswalt [NSFW]:
Money quote from Oswalt:
New York is a great place to visit, don’t get me wrong. But if you live there full-time, it turns your skull into a cage, your brain into a rat, and the city is just a stick poking the rat all day.
Lou Reed, on the other hand, was more scared of Sweden:
Your relocation and Lou’s passing made me think of this scene from Blue in the Face:
You’re going to love leaving. My appreciation for New York deepened immensely once I got the hell out of there. Now, returning as a visitor is one of the great pleasures of my life – which is a lot more than I can say for the experience of actually calling it home.
Before you leave New York, you must see (actually hear) this:
A major audio piece, Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet (2001), will be exhibited at the Cloisters as part of the institution’s 75th-anniversary celebrations (Sept. 10-Dec. 8). Situated in Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, the Cloisters is assembled from architectural elements that largely date from the 12th through the 15th century. Forty-Part Motet is an 11-minute recording of the 16th-century choral composition Spem in alium numquam habui by the 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis. The work’s title translates as In No Other Is My Hope. Forty speakers on metal stands each feature a single voice. The work features a technology called binaural sound, such that the visitor senses voices coming from very specific directions, creating a highly physical experience.
Last weekend I finally made the trek up to The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s somewhat hokey collection of religious painting and architecture. It was a beautiful autumn day and the views of the Hudson from the promontory are fantastic. But it’s the “sound installation” by Cardiff that is really mind-blowing. It was so beautiful that I literally had to keep myself from openly weeping. And I wasn’t the only one. I saw tears in the eyes of many others. I’m not much on churches and organized religion, but I’m grateful to The Met for providing me with a religious experience.
Another New Yorker:
At the end of a very underrated Kevin Spacey/Danny DeVito movie called The Big Kahuna, there is a long monologue by a voice that gives advice to the audience (find it here). One of the lines is, “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard”. Having lived here my whole life, I consider this a truism for 99% of people. It can make you hard. It is not an easy day-to-day life. There are many sacrifices to make and many others you have to accommodate. It is not for everyone.
I realize this will make a lot of your readers, and perhaps you, roll your eyes, but it really does take a different kind of person to make this place their home permanently. I want to emphasize that is not a qualitative assessment. The fact is, I will probably leave … but that’s due to money and family. I love living in this place. I thank god every day I live here. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on the train 40 minutes into my 2.5 mile commute and see all the different kinds of (often smelly and pushy) people and realize few places on earth give me the daily opportunities this place gives. I realize you know all of this and it appears your initial disappointments have not grown into a permanent dislike, which is good. Also, I’ll let your comparisons between NYC and D.C. slide … for now.
I never quite understood the urge of others to take a trip to NYC; it’s far too stressful for that. Those other places, where people spread out and grow, that’s where I like to vacation. That seems relaxing to me. NYC is just where things get done – it’s not meant to be something else. Most people don’t realize that. For most, this place is a cartoon before you get here and a gritty, fall to earth upon staying. For me, it’s home.
I’m sorry you don’t like living here as much as I do, Andrew. I hope when you look back on your year here it won’t seem as bad in retrospect. I’m glad you will be visiting; we will welcome you back (but do stay out of my way on the subway … I got things to do).