At some unidentifiable point, after I lived in New York City a long while, I started talking about leaving. I would say, if it weren’t so cold in Wisconsin in the winter, I would have already moved back to Milwaukee. The Frank O’Hara quote built into the North Cove fence in Battery Park City, makes the answer clear.
The sore point and source of my complaints always boils down to the stupidly high cost of living in Manhattan—from housing to groceries to taxes to well, everything.
But when I step outside my apartment in the summer and stroll by the North Cove and the World Financial Center plaza, I know I live in the best place in the world. I think how, if I woke up in a foreign city and found this view, this cove, this plaza outside my hotel window, I would be satisfied that I had landed a great vacation spot.
Nothing puts the unpleasantness of cost-of-living conversations behind me better than the Frank O’Hara quote embedded in the metal fencing alongside the cove:
“One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. —Frank O’Hara
There is another famous quote, by John Lennon I believe, in which he says, everyone always talks about leaving New York, but no one ever really does. That isn’t true; I know a lot of people who have left New York, some with eventual regret and some none at all.
But I fall into the category of people Lennon is talking about. I won’t leave New York City. Unless I can’t afford it anymore.