Moving to New York seems like a pretty specific life decision but for the educated, well-to-do twenty or thirty something living in San Francisco, it is the epitome of modern desire. Whether it concerns our job, our bodies, our hair or our girlfriend, what we desire is not a radically different alternative - we are solipsistic, self-aggrandizing ego queens who love who we are and what we have, we aren't some loopy farm kid from South Dakota - no, we just desire a less flawed version. We want to keep the good and banish the bad, not in some sick, Fascist pogrom way but in a totally normal, totally healthy Tony Robbins or Scientology way.
So we don't want cities like Charleston or Minneapolis. No one in San Francisco threatens to move to Tallahassee. And though people constantly clamor about how different New York and San Francisco are in lifestyle, as if their dual existence confronts humanity with some grand crisis of identity, New York and San Francisco are really overlapping worlds, comprised of the same genre of affluent white (or white acting) people, same career opportunities, same progressive cosmopolitan ethos. This is why we have friends there, job prospects, and a lead on an apartment.
New York promises the same basic stuff and meaning of San Francisco life just subtly improved. It offers opportunities we can't yet describe but that we sense are right in our sweet spot. We imagine a fabulous if small studio and delicious cocktails and all the glamourous people! Like a Tom Wolfe novel! The Wall Street players with dark suits and dangerous smiles, the skinny models, the actresses, the fashionistas! None of these Subaru-driving faux-hippies, none of these ex-nerd jokers who wear polo shirts and white tube socks. Say sayonara to awkward encounters with Google engineers.
But here's the thing: when your consciousness is half tuned to that mythology, when you always have one foot out the door, then you disengage from your reality, you don't make small talk with the random guy on MUNI, you don’t go slumming at Circa on weekends, you see the tawdriness of SOMA clubs and the under-arm hair of the barrista at Peet’s. After all you've been to Manhattan, the real city, in fact you're considering a move there, Jenny just started Stern and there's that tall guy you met in Tahoe, who has a penthouse on Park Ave., so he said, he's unbelievably full of himself and Sarah said some bad things about him but he was so funny and he keeps texting you... and this small little city around you and it's dorky denizens are just so...bush-league. You can do better than this, you know it.