Sunday, October 19, 2008

The New York Question...and potentially the New York Answer

During senior year at Penn it became clear to me that the next step, regardless of what trail I wanted to blaze in life, would likely lead to New York as my next place of residence. At the time, to rebel against this notion, I decided that if there was one place I didn't want to be upon graduation, it was New York. My reasons were as follows:

1. Because I grew up in the New York vicinity I wouldn't have the same sense of adventure that so many others have had post-college when coming to New York for the first time.

2. I wanted to be independent of others so I could follow my dreams rather than follow my social calendar.

3. I feared that despite my love of my experiences at Penn, New York would essentially be Penn Volume 2. Locust Walk would be Murray Hill, Smokes and Blarneys would be any number of bars that cater to the just-out-of-college crowd, etc. etc.

4. I know that to have fun in New York it takes money. And I knew that any job in a creative industry I had wouldn't afford me to do much more than pay the rent, eat some decent ethnic food, and occasionally splurge on cab rides when it's raining.

My thoughts on these issues were so strong at the time that I justified them by writing a novel, The Age of Me (from which this blog owes its title) about life in New York post-college-graduation. In my mind, I had experienced New York in my 20s through the characters I created and the experiences they went through. I thought I was done and done with that.

And now, 1.5 years after leaving Philadelphia, New York is back on my radar. With the American entertainment industry, you have two choices: New York or LA. Admittedly, the "industry" in Los Angeles would provide me with a more direct path to acheiving my ultimate entertainment career goals, but at the same time Los Angeles lacks much of what rounds out New York as a better overall place to live. For instance, a love-to-hate intelligencia, literati, and overall sophistication that goes beyond the scholarly cinema studies that are ubiquitous in LA.

In New York, everything may still be "Who do you know?" and "Where do you work?" like it is out here (My current answer to that is "I'm a comedy writer and I sell assbrellas.") but in Los Angeles, when it's all revolving around such a seemingly-large-but-in-reality-small industry, this chatter and quest to befriend people on the most superficial of levels gets old very quickly.

The big thing missing from my Los Angeles experience thus far is fulfillment - and I don't mean career fulfillment. I mean changing the world fulfillment, because though I can admittedly be going to soup kitchens or partaking in any number of volunteer programs to help troubled youth that this city has to offer, I want to make a difference on the macro level. (And come on, would a 12-year-old really want to get advice from me anyway?)

Would these feelings change if I lived in New York? I'm not sure. Probably not. But as they say, "The grass is always greener..."

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