People in Portland ask me what it was like to live in New York for 27 years. In response to popular demand, I have compiled the following list of pros and cons for Portlanders contemplating a move to the Big Apple.
1. Do if you want (even) more art.
2. Don’t if you are accustomed to great public pools and libraries.
3. Do if you want to live somewhere you do not have to smile at people.
4. Don’t if you are addicted to Powells – there is no bookstore like it.
5. Do if you feel your immediate environment is about seven and a half million people short.
6. Don’t if you enjoy driving.
7. Do if you want your Harvard degree to give you more of an edge.
8. Don’t if you need to walk barefoot on the grass.
9. Do if you want to experience a lower level of racial tension on the mass transit system.
10. Don’t if you want to have an extremely active social life unrelated to work.
11. Do if you have access to a summer house.
12. Don’t if you detest ambulance sirens and car alarms.
13. Do if you would like to see a hook and ladder fire truck doubleparked in front of a supermarket with all the firemen inside shopping.
14. Don’t if you want to raise children with one full time stay at home parent.
15. Do if you want to live inside a poem.
16. Don’t if your idea of a perfect workplace includes starting the day with prayer.
17. Do if you’ve always felt curiously at peace walking down a crowded carnival midway.
18. Don’t if you can’t balance being friendly and merciless.
19. Don’t if people who complain bring you down.
20. Do if you love to complain. This is a New York art form.
21. Do if you hate scrubbing kitchen floors. You might not even have one.
22. Don’t if you like thinking of anything other than staying alive while you ride your bike to work.
23. Don’t if you think cabbies should be good drivers.
24. Do move to New York if you are confident you will be a success.
25. Don’t if being a success is not important to you. They have a law against people like you.
26. Do if you want to live in the same city as E. B. White and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
27. Don’t if you want to write as well as they did – they took off and did their writing elsewhere.
28. Do if you like buying books on the street.
29. Don’t if you want to stay married.
30. Do if you like participating in a giant web of ambition and emotion.
31. Don’t if you like having saintly, grey haired, sneaker wearing retired people around. There won’t be any.
32. Don’t if you are prone to starting sentences with “Where I come from….” Any New Yorker worth his/her salt will take this as a cue that the conversation is now over.