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Living/leaving New York

February 3, 2009

“..and then the New York skyline would appear on the horizon and we’d all stop talking. If you happen to live there, it’s always refreshing to view Manhattan from afar. Up close the city constitutes an oppressive series of staircases, but from a distance it inspires fantasies of wealth and power so profound that even our communists are temporary rendered speechless.”
David Sedaris, The Great Leap Forward

I have been reading Sedaris’ Me talk pretty one day on and off for some time now, taking one story at a time whenever I feel like it. This particular story (The Great Leap Forward) really got me thinking, probably since we are currently contemplating the various possibilities of where to move. And no, New York is currently not an option under consideration. You start thinking differently once you have kids, you really do. I remember walking the spring sparkled Manhattan last year thinking this looks fine but not a place where I’d want my kids to grow up. Where would they play? Ride a bike? Or pick unripe, sour apples from the trees and run like hell from the screaming neighbours? (OK, I realise the last one will be a pretty tough one these days)Also I could not stop thinking what a large share of modern economy depends on basically exploiting young people, willing to trade in their personal lives or its quality for what they call careers (which once they reach 50 turn out to be little more than mind numbing or nothing underpaid jobs). Much like the infantry in Razzman’s post, only this is how the system deals with the educated bunch .

But this is not what I had in mind. In The Great Leap Forward Sedaris talks about his ‘adventures’ as a mover in New York and one of the things he brilliantly describes is how your success in life comes to be measured through a location of your home. He talks about how moving from Manhattan is always considered a step down, children being the only (half) valid excuse for moving to ‘neighbouring burrows’. A failure of not being in the ‘center’, regardless of the price you have to pay.

I bet Sedaris didn't ahve this part of Manhattan skyline in mind

I bet Sedaris didn't ahve this part of Manhattan skyline in mind

This ‘center’ thing I guess is universal – we have it here in Ljubljana and we are talking a mere 350.000 people capital. Our moving to Kamnik (20 km) was considered a step down by lots of people. And yes, we are talking about  those who would go to the center perhaps once per month and skip all the galleries while they were at it. I wonder what will they “think” if we move to one of the secret locations we are toying around with :)

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2009 2:09 am

    I been to NYC numerous times and sure enough it’s art galleries and museums are excellent but I wouldn’t want to live there. To me NYC is all about what money can and can not buy. If you have lots of money then I’m sure you’ll love what NYC has to offer (besides the constant threat of being mugged) but it’s a terrible place for the poor.

    I’ve always thought it was very odd that many people who live in NYC think that they are somehow special for doing so. Luckily for me, I’ve travelled quite a bit and I know there are many far better places to live; on just about any level, one could name.

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