September 13, 2010

New York, New York

Following PollyThere 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.


  1. I too am a Southern CA native who ended up in NYC for 3.5 years before coming back to CA (i.e. "home"). While I lived there, it never felt like "home" to me - not even close - but just recently I'm finding when I go back for a visit, I LOVE IT there - absolutely love it. I love having a Metrocard and zipping all over the city. I love the choice of restaurants and the wide give to what we call the dinner hour. And I love reading books that take place in the Big Apple as I know exactly what they mean when they say a character hops on the "6" etc. I think that's one of the reasons why I liked Following Polly so much - it reminded me of something I knew once upon a time. Sounds like you might be able to relate too.

  2. I live an hour away from NY. I like to be close to it but I don't think I could ever live there. It doesn't seem to be too much of a blast unless you are stinking rich!

  3. Zen Mama, I'm sure I idealize living in NY because I never did it. I'm sure I would have missed my home terribly. And Emily, you are so right! It is fun to visit NY because you can splurge. Living there would actually require some restraint :)

  4. I can definitely relate. I talked about living in NY after college and never did it either. Instead my roommate had left NY to come to LA, so I got to go do insider's visits with her, but also wake up to the beach every morning. I do sometimes wonder what if, but I'm also glad that I didn't. I think part of what I love is the mystique of the big city, and I get that from visits every now and then.

    PS- I also have been thinking a lot about my first trip back after Sept 11th and posted an article I wrote back then last week. Things certainly changed forever that fateful day...

  5. Love the shout out to "the cousins" who took you to the village when you were in high school. I still remember our outing! I'll have to try the book! xxx


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