There is one thing I often wonder about. It sits in the back of my head, a constant What If? I wouldn’t call it as severe as a regret, but perhaps a missed opportunity. This question I ask myself over and over is: Why didn’t I stay in New York?
I am a California native, raised in SoCal, moved to Berkeley for college, then landed in Silicon Valley, where I am today. But for two years, I left Cali for business school at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut. It was a great decision and a great two years. New Haven is just an hour train ride to New York City, and my roommate and I visited as often as I could.
We saw great theater, including an alternative Swan Lake, Art, Closer, Proof and more. We ate at amazing restaurants, like Balthazar, Eleven Madison Park, Bond Street and Cafeteria. I went to great clubs (both gay and straight), went ice skating in Central Park, and owned my very own Metrocard. I learned that I still love the Village as much as I did the first time my cousins took me there when I visited in high school. I ate delicious cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery (before they went there on Sex and the City) and shopped in SoHo. I felt independent, and maybe for the first time in my life, pretty darn cool.
For some reason, when school was over, I couldn’t wait to get back to California. I didn’t even interview for a single job in New York. I was tempted by the excitement and energy of Silicon Valley. My family was here, including my brother who was still fighting cancer. And I knew I wasn’t really cut out for all that cold and snow for very long. For a few years I went back for long weekends to visit a friend who still lives in the city. But then I got married, and had kids. My east coast friendships faded and it has been a while since I’ve been back.
Ultimately, I think coming back to the left coast was the right decision. But I really do love New York and a little part of me will always wish I had stayed, even for just a little while.
This post was inspired by the book Following Polly, as part of the From Left to Write book club. I was given the book for free, without obligation. I was also thinking, of course, of September 11. I remember so clearly my first visit back to NYC after the towers came down. The city will never be the same.