East to West – My Journey Across the Country

Processed with VSCOcam with n1 presetIt’s a quiet, gray, Saturday morning. After a week of sun and mixed clouds, the Seattle weather has finally settled in. I’m sitting in my new apartment, nestled in one of Seattle’s more younger neighborhoods, Capital Hill. After five days with my stuff from the movers, I’m finally unpacked.

I lived in New York City for nine years, minus a brief stint in San Francisco and New Jersey. I remember my arrival to the city distinctly – on Christmas Eve of 2005, my new roommate informed me that she picked me to co-occupy a tiny one bedroom converted to two on St. Mark’s in the East Village. For four years, starting January 2006, I lived on one of the most trafficked, crazy streets in Manhattan in a quiet apartment run by slum lords who occasionally turned off the hot water without warning. Then the Upper East Side. In San Francisco, I couldn’t listen to Jay Z and Alicia Key’s latest hit “New York State of Mind” without getting a pang of momentary sadness. Then back to NYC- three years of a “Brooklyn tour” hitting Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens. Finally, back to the Upper East Side or Yorkville.

My decision to move across the country didn’t come lightly. It involved countless pros and cons lists. Some soul searching. Talking to friends and family. I think I even tried to meditate. Ultimately, I decided that I was ready for a change and that whatever I decided, New York would still be there. Change I will get. As a result, my coast has changed, apartment, job – from freelance to full time. And my favorite – even my operating system will change at work given that I’m now in a Microsoft town.

During my research into what decision to make, I came across countless blog posts where people declared they were over New York City and consequently leaving. I had these moments- walking 15 minutes to the subway where everyday, I’d look up thinking I was further along only to realize I was only at First Avenue. Then getting crushed on the 6 Train. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t gaining traction in my career, felt like I couldn’t afford all New York City had to offer. But then I had those small moments that were so uniquely New York. Stepping into a wine bar with my pros and cons list where a group of French people argued at the end of the bar. The muscular bartender, who I stereotyped as being from Long Island (I’m from Jersey, I can think these things), actually hailed from Hawaii. The trans performer dancing and singing his heart out at the Union Square subway station. A January dim sum gathering with long time friends. Or walking by the church I was baptized in, feeling a sense of pride as I thought – I’m a real New Yorker.

Recently, philosopher Ruth Chang’s TED Talk on how to make decisions was floating around the internet. She speaks about how people try to quantify decisions. Will moving to Seattle be the better option, or is staying in New York the right decision? Ultimately, with both offering their own pros and cons, neither tips the scale as being a clear winner or loser. This is considered a hard decision. Instead, it’s up to me to choose what kind of lifestyle I’m seeking. What am I willing to give up in order to get? What new experiences do I seek that are worth giving up all that is comfortable and familiar? Who do I want to be?

We make our choices and then adjust our life to build around those decisions. So the next time you see another “Why I’m Leaving New York” blog post, take it for what it is – an attempt to rationalize a decision that they may need outside support on. For those fortunate enough, where you live is a choice. It’s a choice to experience certain aspects of a lifestyle while sacrificing others. It’s a choice to experience the unfamiliar or choose to live among the familiar. It’s a choice to make your life the way you want it to be.

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The Year In Pop Culture

kind of epic.

Why Not Now

On Sunday, I attended the Climate March in New York City. 100,000 people were expected to show up. Instead, it was estimated that 400,000 people showed up. I’m excited that there seems to finally be a huge shift in how we perceive climate change. It’s reached a tipping point as widely accepted to be a man-made phenomenon that will have dire consequences in the near future if we don’t act. But is it too late? There are so many mass behaviors that people participate in as preventative measures despite not knowing 100% if something negative will happen to us. We purchase car insurance, home insurance and health insurance on the off chance things go wrong. We invest in our financial future early on through social security and 401K’s on the off chance we don’t fall into large sums of money before retirement. We even ward off the effects of aging and the possibility of cancer through sunscreen.

On a corporate level, companies protect themselves from unforeseen issues through insurance, savings and even hiring practices. It is considered a wise business practice to smartly prepare for the future even if that means making sacrifices and expenditures during this preparation.

So why do companies, policy makers and governments so widely question the importance of preventing climate change? At this point in our scientific understanding, it’s become clear that further damage can cause irreversible damage. We’ve already seen billions of dollars spent and millions of lives lost from the effects of climate change, from draughts to hurricanes to heat waves. Is it worth waiting and questioning this statement when so much is at stake? What are we waiting for?

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