I was born to Netflix and chill. And I mean actually watch Netflix and chill. (And by “chill” I mean sit down and eat Frankenberry out of the box.) Truth be told, I don’t even need Netflix. I don’t even need a color TV. I’m perfectly content to sit around and drink instant coffee watching a black and white episode of Perry Mason. I could easily eat cereal, rice and beans or a TV dinner every day for the rest of my life without a whimper. I’m the indoors-y type, and if I woke up one morning with my apartment and all its contents and occupants magically transported to some other locale, most of my life would go on as it had before.
So, why do I live in New York City? I would save A LOT of money were I to move to…well, pretty much anywhere else. For the money I spend residing in Manhattan I’ve been told that I could live in a huge mansion in Kansas or Indiana, with a swimming pool, a housekeeper and a fancy sportscar. But here’s the thing: then I’d be living in Alabama or Indiana, and that is completely untenable. (Plus, if I drove around in a fancy sportscar then I’d be an asshole, so there’s that.) So, why do I need to live in New York City? Well, let me count the ways.
New York City attracts really smart, creative people.
I’m not saying I am a smart or creative person, but I am saying that I want to live among smart and creative people. People from all over America and all over the world come to New York City to do their best work and pursue what the best and brightest people pursue. Obviously there are smart and talented people everywhere, in but New York and other world centers act as meritocracies where intelligent people – and people who value intelligence – tend to congregate.
In New York City I’m less likely to be surrounded by idiots.
Let me be clear: Most Americans are not idiots. (It’s easy to forget that Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million, and a lot of people who preferred her to Trump sadly stayed home.) I’m blessed to know all kinds of wonderful and kind non-idiots all over the country. (Shout-out to Angeline in Iowa, Bev in North Dakota with whom I attended the Democratic Convention, and my Sorensen clan from Nebraska!) This is not about everyone in red states being red-hat wearers. This is about two huge character flaws of mine. 1) I cannot suffer fools gladly; I suffer them mad-ly. 2) I just cannot keep my damn mouth shut. So, if I overheard a guy in the checkout line singing Trump’s praises, or looking askance at a lesbian couple, I just can’t not say something. I am absolutely the “Hold my beer!” type. Even if I didn’t initiate a conversation with this lady, overhearing her remarks would ruin the rest of my day. Is this sensible? No. Is it sane? No. Does it speak well of me? Probably not. But that’s who I am and I’m unlikely to change. My best bet for less-stress, non-incarcerated living is to live in New York City.
Now: Are there people in New York City who think journalists at The Washington Post and New York Times make things up? Sure. Can you find people here who distrust science and those pesky people who have suspiciously earned PhDs? Yes. But they are few and far between compared to, well, Alabama and Indiana. Can you find homophobes, anti-semites and racists in New York City? Hell yeah. But if you’re gay, Jewish or black, I believe you’d be better off here. For one, New York City is crawling with liberals. It’s also a place where you cannot swing at cat without hitting someone who is gay, Jewish or black, and even all three. And if you are surrounded by people every day you will quickly learn that there is nothing to fear or hate about anybody. (Unless you’re an idiot, and then you would be better off moving to, again, Alabama or Indiana. Idaho would work too. The exception would be if you’re an idiot who is also part of a minority, and if that’s the case, you need to think long and hard about what an asshole you are. And by the way, don’t swing cats.)
People in New York City tend to be much more tolerant than people elsewhere, making them, like me, more intolerant of intolerance.
Again, New York City is a hotbed of liberalism. You know, liberals – people with the radical idea that women are people deserving of equal rights, that every race, religion and sexual preference is valid, and that science and rationality should not be ignored. Being from the South, I know what it’s like to be the only one in the room upset or outraged when the n-word is uttered, rape victims are blamed, or a religion is ridiculed. I like living somewhere where I know I won’t be alone (or ostracized) if I disparage disparagers.
“Weird” isn’t weird in New York City.
In my youth (and not-so-youth) I used to wear vintage clothes. I would talk about things that interested me but everyone else thought were nerdy. I’d sometimes say things that seemed perfectly normal to me yet elicited rolled eyes and sneers. But here in New York City, nothing is weird. You can be as “weird” as you want. Not only will no one sneer, no one will care. And if you do find someone who cares, it’s because they are into the same so-called “weird” shit you are. Like to make dioramas using roaches dressed as characters from King Arthur’s Roundtable? You’ll find a friend and fans. “Weird” isn’t not only not weird, it’s wonderful.
You don’t need a car.
I hate driving. I hate owning a car. I love being able to walk everywhere. I treasure the mass transit system that can not only get you anywhere you want to go, it can do it while surrounding you with all kinds of people. Which brings me to…
New York City gives you a full palette of people.
Take the subway any subway in New York City and you’ll find an array of people from every part of the globe. You’ll also be surrounded by people from all walks of life – well-off stockbrokers, struggling single mothers, blue-collar uniforms standing next to street style stars. Years ago I had a job where I traveled all over the country. Whenever I was in, say, Pocatello or Carbondale, it always felt really strange, and even a little scary. Where is everybody? Why does everyone look pretty much the same? Where are all the Sikhs in their turbans, the Jews in their yarmulkes, all the Asian-Americans, Muslims, Latinos and black folk? No foreign accents, no hijabs or drag queens. And everyone is speaking English – it’s really weird! New York City is a crazy quilt of all kinds of people with all kinds of ideas, languages and lifestyles. For me, to live amid a more monochrome monopoly, that would feel crazy.
New Yorkers are tough, kind and adaptable.
“The city that never sleeps” gets a reputation as a place where we’re all faithless heathen apathetically jostling to get to where we need to go. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this incredibly diverse crazy quilt there is always one big thing all New Yorkers have in common: we are all New Yorkers. There’s a mutual understanding, almost a merit badge that comes with that similarity. It’s an alliance. New York is #1 for so many great things and so many tragedies. We’re the first to get and set trends, and Ground Zero for America’s COVID pandemic and terrorist attacks (literally). And that’s when the world sees us New Yorkers rise and survive, in courage and all colors. Maybe that’s why, whatever the dangers, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Swimming pool or no swimming pool.