On Writing and Leaving New York
Don’t get me wrong. I still think I made the right decision returning back to the midwest, cornfields and all. But that doesn’t mean I can’t miss the big city. On my 30-minute morning commute to work, sometimes I miss the bustle of people and the sound of the subway (not the smell). Or the feeling of walking everywhere. But then some mornings, with the sun just breaking the horizon, a pink hue spilling through the clouds, and a cluster of birds weaving across the sky, I’m reminded of the pure beauty of the midwest.
Torn between the two worlds, the book Goodbye to all that: writers of loving and leaving New York drew me in. The book contains an entire collection from authors who loved the city, lived in the city, but then left for one reason or another. It seemed only appropriate for me after doing much the same.
While I’ve only begun the essays, one already stood out to me. It’s Cheryl Strayed’s “Minnesota Nice.” As I’ve mentioned before, I spent my undergrad in southern Minnesota, population 20,000. While I only lived there during four “school-years” , I understand that phrase all too well.
Minnesota Nice [adjective]: the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered…and have an aversion to confrontation (courtesy of Wikipedia)
I’ve always said that only in the midwest can four people sit at a stop sign and wave at each other for 5 minutes. We are nice and passive. Too passive. Seriously, we could out-wait anyone to death.
That was one thing that surprised me about New York. People didn’t want to make eye contact. Storeowners didn’t want to make chit-chat. They wanted me to buy something or leave. And with the amount of people living in New York, I don’t blame them for wanting to be left alone.
So I guess that’s how I’ve ended up here, back in Nebraska. My small town job allows me to work with small business owners all day, the kinds of people who like to chit-chat.
I’m excited to continue reading these stories, bit by bit. I’ve slowly realized that New York was my dream. I spent a wonderful summer living that dream. Now I’m back home, finding other dreams to live.