In 1967, Joan Didion's essay "Goodbye To All That" was published in The Saturday Evening Post (under the title "Farewell to the Enchanted City"). It was a perfect, six-page "Dear John" letter, addressing all the reasons why Didion loved and then left New York. It has aged beautifully, which is one of the many, many reasons that no one should ever feel the urge to put pen to paper on this topic ever again.
And yet, here we are, another year's worth of internet musing on the subject. We're not saying these are poorly written, or that each individual's feelings don't matter (to someone?), just that these Didion-esque essays exist, when they probably shouldn't.
- Carola Lovering wrote about her departure for Elite Daily last week, in an essay she actually called "Goodbye To All That." She lists off the same things every other person has ever listed off when writing one of these essays (did you guys know New York is kind of expensive? Carola is "exhausted" from the guilt that takes over after ordering a 2nd glass of wine at dinner.) She also quotes Mary Schmich, Didion, and closes with John Updike.
Quote: "I want to see mountains and lakes and meadows and snow that sticks. I want to go hiking and camping and skiing on the weekends. We need nature more than we realize. It’s good for the soul." Can't believe no one ever told Carola about upstate New York.
- You're up, Moby! This year Moby took a stab at the leaving NYC essay, which was typed from his mansion in sunny Los Angeles, surrounded by artists and realness.
Quote: "Even friends of mine who are making very good salaries of $150,000 a year feel dirt-poor when they picture raising kids in New York. My friends who are trying to start families in New York have given up on simple things, like ever having a 50-square-foot backyard for their kids. I don't know why they aren't moving to Newark. It's 15 minutes away from Manhattan and remarkably cheap." LOL, Moby.
- Justine Harman wrote about leaving New York for Elle, mirroring Didion along the way.
Quote: "The thing is: At 29, I feel both very young and very old. Over the course of eight years, I have changed tremendously and also not at all. When I moved to the city, I was down for anything: Excessive drinking? A stranger's drugs? Terrible company? Sign me up! Eight years later, if I have more than two glasses of wine, my mental health is all but shot for the next 24 hours... So, after eight swollen years in New York, I am moving to Philadelphia."
- Next we have a native New Yorker, Sara Roncero-Menendez, who left the city for the first time. In her essay, she quotes another similar essay with a similar headline from 2013... which should be a red flag that you don't need to add to the GTAT pile.
Quote: "While living in New York is not like competing in an urban Hunger Games, there are some days when it can be tough to find your smile, even for a life-long New Yorker like me."
- Over at Medium John Devore tried to trick us with a bunch of tough guy talk, but then slowly transitions towards Babylon: "I thought about writing one of those 'Why I Left New York' essays on the off chance that New York would notice. I knew better." But this is one of those essays, John! And to be honest, it's actually a pretty good goodbye to all that. [Important update: Welcome back, John!]
Quote: "Why did I leave New York? For a job. I took a job. A good job. Also, let’s be honest, because I am a wimp. L.A. smells like flowers all the fucking time and I think that smell is pumped in from kind of secret reservoir of perfume. But I didn’t leave New York because I fell out of love with the city."
Please, if you are leaving New York, do not go Didion Lite... just leave, quietly. Journal about it, quote Didion on Facebook, and never look back.
— Jen Carlson (@jenist) December 29, 2014
And if you're thinking of moving to LA, read this first.