It’s the most cliché essay on the planet; so much so that The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs once published a parody called N.Y.C. to L.A. to N.Y.C. to L.A., Ad Infinitum which neatly sums up the predictability of the form.
That said, we’re about to undergo a major life change and I can’t not write about it. (In case you missed it — and in case you’re bad with context clues — we’re moving back to N.Y.!)
We’ve been in L.A. since 2011 (12 years in August) and, from the very beginning, I was writing my NY to LA essays. Here’s my “One Year in L.A.” essay. Here’s my “Two Years in L.A.” essay. I could’ve filled a novel with my reflections on the subject and then, somewhere along the way — maybe the 5th year — I stopped thinking about the subject of N.Y. vs. L.A. I just lived in L.A. and that was that and it wasn’t a major concern.
So what changed?
Well, for starters, I got older. Craig directed a big movie. We were starting to gently talk about maybe buying a house. We were looking at Eagle Rock, Pasadena, Altadena. I was imagining a little garden where I could grow tomatoes and herbs and sit outside reading Proust or Nora Ephron. Then an image popped into my head, one that I couldn’t shake.
It was an image from one of Craig’s favorite movies — Todd Haynes’s masterpiece, Safe. The movie is about so many things, but one of the most stark things about it is how Julianne Moore (who plays the main character) is so isolated in her idyllic California life. Every shot of her in her home or in her car makes her look tiny, insignificant, utterly alone.
And it was that image that spun me around on my axis. Craig goes off to various locations to direct TV and movies all the time; and if we were going to buy a place, would I be stuck in some perfectly pleasant domicile by myself with my tomatoes and herbs and dog, while he’s off surrounded by people, new experiences, and excitement? (Yes, we have amazing friends here, but an empty house can be very isolating! And so can L.A.)
Around the same time something else was going on…
The cookbook that I cowrote with Gideon Glick came out this fall and Craig and I spent a week in NY with our families seeing shows, eating fabulous meals, and it all culminated with a book party at the Library at the Public Theater that was one of my favorite nights of my life.
My closest L.A. friend Ryan predicted it: “You’re going to have your book party and want to move back to NY.” And he was right!
Around this time I was already starting to scout neighborhoods. Craig and I spent a day strolling from Ft. Greene (where we had brunch) to Carroll Gardens and taking it all in. On New Year’s Eve back in L.A., we went around the table at Ryan and Jonathan’s house saying the highlights and low points of our year. When it got to Craig he said that his favorite day of the year was the day that we spent in Ft. Greene. That’s when I knew he was on board .
Of course, there are a million other factors. I’m from New York. My niece and nephew live in Florida, just a short flight away. Our oldest friends Mark and Diana and their kids live in Irvington (just thirty minutes outside from the city). All of our old grad school friends live in NY, not to mention the friends we made in the seven years that Craig and I lived there together. And, finally, my three favorite things in the world are Broadway, bookstores, and restaurants. NY has all three boxes checked with a fat red marker.
Of course, I tend to be pretty binary with things and come to conclusions like “L.A. is bad, N.Y. is good.” That would be the wrong conclusion. L.A. is fantastic and I’m absolutely going to miss so many things about living here, especially the friends we’ve made. But as I get deeper into my mid-forties, I want to live somewhere that I love with all of my heart, a place that’ll stimulate me when I’m by myself, a place that makes me feel constantly connected to the human race, a place that truly feels like home. And that place is NYC.
You’re probably hungry after reading all of that!
Check out this recipe I just shared on my blog for Ramen Noodles with Mushrooms, Chiles, and Lime.
It’s a vegan recipe from Heidi Swanson’s newest cookbook Super Natural Simple and it was sent to me by this week’s podcast guest, Vegan Chef Chris Tucker.
You can listen to our whole conversation above or on Apple Podcasts here.
The recipe itself is a cinch to make but oh so flavorful and powerful. Meaty mushrooms, zippy chiles and lime juice, herby cilantro, and crunchy salty peanuts. I can’t wait to make it again.
CLICK HERE for the recipe. You’re going to love it.
Now for some links:
Exotics Only — a chip shop, not a porn store (LA Times);
A Lesbian-Owned Queer Bar in L.A.? I’m so happy for all of my L.A. lesbian friends! (Eater LA);
Nigel Slater’s yogurt recipes (The Guardian).
In case you missed it, I’ve been sending out a daily diet dispatch called Operation Muffin Stud that tracks my attempt to lose fifteen pounds. I’m currently on Day 12 and I’ve already dropped 2.9 pounds. If you want to follow along, become a paid subscriber of The Amateur Gourmet Newsletter, then enter your email address at muffinstud.substack.com and I’ll approve you (it’s a private newsletter).
Become a paid subscriber and get two emails a week, access to my full archives, PLUS my daily diet dispatch as I try to lose fifteen pounds.
Okay, back to looking for apartments on StreetEasy!
I’m in my late 50s and have had a dream to live anywhere on the east coast preferably NY my entire adult like! I’d give up Cali in a heartbeat if my husband was on board and my children weren’t here! So good for you! Life goes by to quickly not t live where your heart is!
How exciting. I am a tad bit jealous you are moving to NYC! I've been trying to convince my spouse to move there for the past 10 years. I find I always weigh less after I've spent time in NYC. I think it's all the walking and taking subways instead of driving everywhere. I hope you find the home of your dreams. Wishing you much happiness and a smooth relocation.