09/26/2013 05:07 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2013

Why I'm Glad I Quit New York At Age 24


On Saturday night, I found myself in a karaoke bar at 3:45 a.m., participating in a raucous group rendition of "New York, New York." This, you may be surprised to learn, represented a certain amount of personal growth. Even though some of my best friends in the world live here and it's the epicenter of my professional universe, "not really liking New York" has long been part of who I am. I've always had fun when I visit, but I've found the most professional success and personal happiness outside of New York. My take, since about age 25, has been, "Why would I want to make it there when I can make it everywhere else?"

A new book called Goodbye to All That, out next month, chronicles 28 writers' experiences with loving and, eventually, breaking up with the city. I spent the worst year of my life in New York. Right after college graduation, I moved from Missouri to join my college boyfriend, who had landed my dream job. I ended up here not because I had something to prove, but because I couldn't think of where else to go. No job, dreamy or otherwise. No inclination toward any particular city other than "not my hometown." When I decamped for the West Coast fifteen months later, I didn't feel failure or regret but relief. For me, New York is that guy I went out with only briefly and then successfully transitioned into friendship. We were always meant to be platonic. But in the years since I've moved away, I've learned that "I'm kind of meh on New York" is not a generally accepted point of view. It rivals "I've never seen The Goonies" for most controversial fact about me.

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