When the streets of New York City hit an all-time Fahrenheit low my pain-ridden, tear-streaked face begins to freeze as I am sucked into the alleyway vacuums and backstreet wind-tunnels that show no mercy on pedestrians and pigeons trying to share the sidewalks. I desperately try to change the song that is blaring through my headphones trying to block out the sound of the wind howling around me, but my fingers are so cold my touch screen won’t respond to the aggressive tapping on the ‘>’ button. I breathe deeply but the snot in my nose turns to crystals and I begin to choke as the hardened material flies down my esophagus and smacks into the walls of my lungs. That’s right; I’ve just choked on my own frozen snot. I begin to jog the remaining two blocks to my rehearsal but the impact of my cold feet on the dead and hardened ground shoots spikes of pain up my legs. Almost there….I breathe through my mouth now, letting my own hot breath engulf my face inside my hood as I cling to this last form of minimal relief. I’m reaching for the door handle…I’m pulling the door open as hard as I can against the wind….just a bit more force….AND I’m indoors! I am inside a building with four walls and a roof and I am FREE from the bitter cold wind! Holy shit, it’s hot in here. Oh my god, I have to get my winter coat off now. Ugh. I’m sweating! Who turns the heat on this high!? Christ, there’s just no happy medium here!
There is just no happy medium here. Could that mean maybe it’s time to move to that far-away galaxy called the west-coat? I hear that angels walk the streets there. I hear that organic food is cheaper. Someone once told me they went surfing and snowboarding in the same day. Did you know that for the cost of a shitty apartment in New York you could live in a house with a pool and private parking? One time, my friend was just walking down the street and someone saw her and now she is in a movie with Zac Efron. They get to make out. I hear the Hollywood sign will open up into a cave of wonders for someone known as a diamond in the rough. I could be that diamond in the rough- why shouldn't I be that diamond in the rough? New York clearly doesn't see what it’s missing. Look out L.A.! I’m gonna be your next big star!
There’s just one little problem. Despite the cold and the walking, aside from the ridiculous cost of living and the lack of public bathrooms, even though the subways reach a sweltering 115 degrees in the summer and personal space is the equivalent of sardines in a can, and regardless of the fact that I am a long-term inhaler of grade D- air-quality air, I have fallen in love with New York. Dammit, don’t ask me how it happened but it did.
My first two years here I hated it. In a city of millions it’s hard to make even one reliable friend. The winters physically hurt and the summers are so full of sticky smog and bad body odor that I almost started a petition to include mandatory deodorizing as a necessary amendment to ObamaCare. Well, maybe that’s already written in there somewhere - no one’s really had time to read all those documents. Speaking politics, I also hate how unintelligently liberal a large majority of the population is, which also ties into the rumor that people here are mean. I consider myself a liberal despite my parent’s attempts to raise me as someone they can be proud of, but I also think that for many people being liberal is a trend. Being liberal is an all-inclusive way of pretending to be accepting of everyone while passing judgments on the very people walking in front of you. After all, it’s ok to nicely generalize an entire population if it means you get to stick up for an underdog, but if your own neighbors do something to piss you off, out come the hateful judgments and racial slurs. L.A. is pretty knee-deep in fake liberals as well, but at least out there you can smoke weed. I digress.
What I am suffering from is the “grass is always greener” syndrome. If I moved to L.A. right now it would be for all the wrong reasons. Sure the weather is beautiful and I can feel 18 years old forever with the magic of sunshine and the smell of the beach – but I survived a two-week, outdoor shoot upstate in the dead of winter in negative temperatures working for free! That is dedication. That is commitment and now I have an unquenchable thirst for more of those types of challenges. If I had been spoiled by the L.A. weather I may have thought twice about doing a brutally demanding exterior shoot.
New York also loves me for being a happy, healthy weight. Who cares if the camera adds five pounds? Have you ever had a New York City bagel!? Sometimes I only eat bagels. I have no regrets. This city also loves me despite the beginnings of my grey hair, though it better love me despite that. New York is the reason I’ve gone prematurely grey.
I’ve also come to learn that New York City is a place that rewards hard work. There are no handouts here. Maybe you can score some free samples at Crumbs, but you get what you make out of the opportunities the city gives you, and it gives you plenty of opportunity. There are some slimy, deceitful and manipulative people out there, but the road to success will never be blatantly hidden. New York may not tuck me in at night, but it does make me appreciate the feeling of a well-earned slumber.
If I moved to L.A. now I would have to start over. I mentioned before how hard it was for me to make real friends here. Why the hell would I throw more than three years of networking and relationship-building away for a change of scenery when it’s all just the same game anyway? I’ll get to L.A. when I need to get there, but no sooner.
My best friend in the whole world once told me “New York will punch you in the face, but L.A. will stab you in the back.” Given the choice, I’d rather be punched in the face. It puts me in a much better position to swing back.