"Goodbye to All That": Why Is Everybody Talking About Leaving New York?

09/26/2013 9:10 PM |


Just when the rest of the world seems to be falling in love with New York Brooklyn, the unthinkable has begun to happen—New Yorkers are all talking about leaving New York. At first I thought it was just something happening with the people I knew, too anecdotal and specific to my group of friends for me to turn it into any kind of larger generalization. But then suddenly, it seemed like everyone started talking about leaving New York. There was an article in Salon by Cari Luna, “Priced Out of New York,” wherein Luna even recalls that, before she moved to Portland, she “became envious of every friend who’d managed to escape.” There was an essay by Ann Friedman in New York, “Why I’m Glad I Quit New York at Age 24,”where she dismisses New York as being “the prom king,” and the guy who”knows he’s great, and he’s gonna make it really, really hard on you if you decide you want to love him.” And then there was an essay in BuzzFeed by Ruth Curry about how she left New York to live in New Zealand (although she did return, much later). Curry’s essay is a part of a new book edited by Sari Botton titled Goodbye to All That, which is a collection of essays by writers who all loved New York, sure, but then left it. Left it! There was a time not so long ago that the idea of people willingly leaving New York would have been unfathomable, but now, when more and more people I know leave for LA or Berkeley or Portland or St. Louis, I’m having to come to terms with the fact that liking New York has become about as cool as saying the Yankees are your favorite baseball team. Which, fuck. That’s not cool at all.


And so, a note on that. The Yankees are my favorite baseball team. This is something I’ve needed to defend

” That is what it was all about, wasn’t it? Promises? Now when New York comes back to me it comes in hallucinatory flashes, so clinically detailed that I sometimes wish that memory would effect the distortion with which it is commonly credited.”

” You see I was in a curious position in New York: it never occurred to me that I was living a real life there.”

” Some years passed, but I still did not lose that sense of wonder about New York”

” Everything that was said to me I seemed to have heard before, and I could no longer listen. “

” I talk about how difficult it would be for us to “afford” to live in New York right now, about how much “space” we need, All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore. “

I once tried to explain why I like raising my children in New York City by saying that I want them to take the extraordinary for granted. I want them to feel ownership of some of the most amazing things in

New York is a constructed city. Sure, this land once had great natural beauty and it’s possible to still get a sense of that if you find yourself in Inwood, on the northern tip of Manhattan, or wandering through the Vale of Cashmere in Prospect Park, on paths surrounded by thickets of trees and bramble. But most of what’s spectacular about New York is manmade; from the impossibly long and graceful arc of the Verrazano Bridge to the constellation studded domed ceiling in Grand Central Station to, yes, those green and wooded areas in Prospect Park and Central Park, all designed not so much to mimic nature, but to improve upon it.

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