You know you’ve reached a new level in your New York life when you hear yourself say:
“Well, ok, I don’t know if I could spend my whole life here. But New York is an amazing city!!!” It’s such a big step in the development of your New York identity. The moment when you realize maybe you’re not such a hardcore New Yorker after all.
For the true New Yorker – the kind who will live and die here – those words come as a shock.
Take, for example, last year when my friend Laure said to me, “I think some day I’d like to go back to Europe.” I almost fell out my chair. What? Why? How could you ever want to leave the greatest city in the world? The most exciting city, the coolest city, the city that has the most opportunity in the world, in your life, in the world of your life?
It almost felt like a betrayal. Kind of like hearing someone is ready to get off the happy boat you and your friends have taken out for vacation (ok, pretty hard working vacation).
Well, that was without counting the movement in my life. My imminent change of decade and the bloody (sorry), shitty winter (sorry) that had been hitting us so hard. We’ll talk more about you later, fucked up (sorry) winter.
There was also the fact that little by little, certain major traits of the city were revealing themselves to me. The dangers of the city, if you prefer. I’ve identified three of them so far:
It’s a city of walking ideals.
In New York, the idea is that life is much easier when you have money (because rent prices are completely outrageous and, hey, aqua barré classes are expensive!). And even easier if you have a little layer of social polish (so you can be invited to the right parties and get all the good gossip and, most of all, feel important), and, of course, even easier when you’re skinnier, younger, and have a better career than other people.
None of that is surprising, I know, but what is surprising is when you realize those ideals are making their way into your subconscious without you even realizing it.
And without ever even asking yourself what you really wanted deep down, you find yourself in a kind of frenzied life competition (and sure, it’s a friendly competition, with that nice, American-style, healthy sense of competition. But make no mistake, it’s definitely a competition).
Ok, it’s cliché but, the other day, I was sitting at a table in a restaurant in New York (it was beautiful with good, healthy food, and full of noisy creatives, successful business people and smiling It girls and boys) when I realized that going to restaurants has pretty much become my main activity outside of work. I mean, ok, I did stop going to brunch on weekends because I was sick of fighting the crowds (it’s even louder on weekends, who knows why, probably the mimosas) but even so, it freaked me out a little.
I imagined myself in ten years, sitting at some new, trendy restaurant, doing exactly the same thing, but just a little older, and not being able to tell one year apart from another. For some people, this life is paradise. For me, it’s Groundhog Day.
Peter Pan syndrome.
Some say it’s pure joy. My life here is pretty much the same as my life when I was 20, except I work a lot more. I see my friends, I party like a teenager, I have friends of all ages and, seriously, I don’t even notice the time go by. They say New York keeps people young and the thing is, it’s pretty true.
It’s a lifestyle that most New Yorkers adore – but, for me, I don’t know. I like the idea of change, of not having the same experiences at 20, 30, and 40…
So, anyway, I’m not sure how it happened, but at some point when I was buried deep in that endless winter that we’ve already complained about so many times on this blog that I don’t need to paint you a more dreadful picture, I started to dream about living somewhere else.
I have a hard time with the endless winters. I’ve suffered from the gray days in Paris, and I’m having a hard time with the cold vortexes in New York. They kind of make me feel like I’m not really living, actually, even though Chris and I did everything we could to make the best of it. We got back into snowboarding, we discovered a passion for soup and, when we really couldn’t take it anymore, we just flew to Costa Rica. But I don’t know if that’s going to be enough.
To a Corsican girl, five months of violent winter is kind of like putting my life on hold. And I’m really tired of that.
So, we all decided, the team at the Studio and I, to go spend next winter in LA.
The ironic thing is, my desire to go to LA is the most New York phenomenon there is. I’m not the only one who talks about leaving in the winter, and we’re all going to laugh (a little embarrassed) next year when we find all the same noisy New York crowds in the veggie restaurants in LA.
But the other ironic thing is, when I talk about maybe leaving one day, in a distant future, maybe, I see the same look in everyone’s eyes that I probably would have given them a few months ago.
“What?? Where would you go? How, why? How could you want to leave the best city in the world? The most exciting city, the coolest city, the city that has the most opportunities in the world, in your life, in the world of your life?”
And that inevitable look that goes along with it, that means:
“So you’re just giving up, is that it? You’re not a real New Yorker, I guess. You’re going to go back to some anonymous city, some place less exciting, less cool, with fewer opportunities. Yeah, yeah. Ok, ok. I SEE.”
(And that’s when you get the condescending “you’ve failed” look. You actually have to be really brave to detach yourself from the Walking Ideal.)
Alright. All of this is just a bunch of ideas passing through my mind. I’m not sure how it will all play out. I’m not sure when – definitely not right away. I’ve been thinking about getting a little house Upstate for a few years now so I can get away on the weekends, like Laura, but I have to admit, the idea of spending a winter Upstate shoveling snow, euuuuuhhhhh, how can I put this…
What’s interesting is the little crack that showed up in a place I thought was protected from everything. New York is a city I’m having a real love story with. And if I know anything about love stories, it’s that a real love story is never really over, even if you have to make it long distance…
What about you? Have you ever wanted to escape from a place you loved?
Translated by Andrea Perdue