East Coast / West Coast, Which Coast is the Best Coast?
If the United States could be divided into two camps of people, those who believe absence makes the heart grow fonder and those who agree that out of sight means out of mind, which side would you be on?
It’s fortunate this is a hypothetical situation, because I’d find myself somewhere in the middle of the country, and I have absolutely no desire to return to my Midwestern roots. I live life on the edge. Literally—for the past 19 months, it’s been the eastern edge. I recently took a trip to the western one and was surprised by what I found there: a twinge of desire to belong. Being away from New York, however briefly, made me question which camp I should be in.
I love New York. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t see myself living anywhere else within any time frame that is reasonable to be planning for right now. My jaunt to California both affirmed and unhinged this claim.
Walking out of the San Diego airport into the Southern California sunshine was a powerful aphrodisiac, but nothing I can’t resist—my heart is in Manhattan, and I’m not a cheater. But the weather wasn’t the only temptation that presented itself over the weekend.
I miss riding in cars with boys. I forgot that smiling at strangers isn’t forbidden everywhere you go. It slipped my mind that seeing the stars and watching the sun set are basic pleasures.
But it was the very things that the West Coast dwellers loved the most that would drive me away. The slow pace. The laid back beach vibe. The casualness of it all.
And it was exactly the traits that these people despise about New York that I found myself carrying like a badge of honor: the ridiculous price of rent, the ubiquitous presence of rats, the impersonal hustle and bustle of the streets. Anyone can find their place in a city that moves slowly enough to let you slip easily into the stream; it’s much harder to carve your space into a city where the only meaning of “go with the flow” is that you better step aside and let those other New Yorkers exit the train before you elbow your way on.
There were moments—on the Coronado Bridge with downtown San Diego to one side and the wild of Mexico to the other, on a warm evening porch after a few glasses of Jack and Coke, while hiking in the Torrey Pines State Reserve along the ocean’s edge—when I thought, “I could do this.” And I could. But I could do a lot of things. Right now, leaving New York isn’t one of them.
Though it doesn’t roll off the tongue in the rhythm of a rhyme, I still have to declare: East Coast is the best coast. But I’ll visit the opposite shore whenever I have the chance. After all, my absence will just make the city grow fonder, right?