“They can’t hack it, so they left.” This is how city dwellers explain why someone would choose to leave “the city” for a suburban life. The person leaving the city explains, “I wanted more space, I was ready to start a family, I wanted to live someplace with sidewalks,” and so on. The city dweller is not ready to give up the city for an apartment big enough for the microwave to fit in the kitchen instead of the living room.
I recently read an article about Rachael Ray in Bloomerberg Businessweek discussing how she credits leaving New York City, a city she loved, as a catalyst for her current success. Ray was working at Macy’s, managing their gourmet markets, and living in Queens. After being mugged twice by the same person within a few days, she moved to Albany, New York – where she grew up – and got a job in a local market teaching cooking classes. Her cooking classes led to a book which ultimately found its way to Al Roker. When she got a call from the Today show, she thought it was a joke. A storm was coming through New York, and all of the show’s guests had cancelled. They wanted to know if she could fill in. Ray made Al Roker a 30-minute meal, and The Food Network called shortly after. What if Ray had never moved to Albany?
I’m a city dweller. I’ve lived in New York, San Francisco, and now DC. I don’t have a car and yes, I’ve lived in an apartment so small the microwave really was in the living room. I wouldn’t give up my experiences in urban living for anything, but maybe someday I’ll find I need to. I just don’t know. We never do.