"This experience has left me to grapple with learning how to remain an honest writer in New York: In truth, I’m not sure it can be done."
For someone so young, Jess says some things. And some of them are worth saying! What a blessing to have the jig be up before she is using it to juice her own batteries down the line (though I’m not entirely sure she won’t). I wish it didn’t sound so hoary and advice-y to say it, but there is no real antidote, except to press on, seeking out creativity and challenge, innovation and a global outlook, and more importantly, mutual respect rather than collective disdain. If you aren’t finding it in a Brooklyn duplex with too many cooks in the kitchen—eh—look elsewhere. We all moved here for it. Maybe it’s left New York (or one subsect of it), but I think there are still some rocks to turn up here in search of the good stuff. Intimidation and doubt tend to be roadblocks to well-executed work—which can of course be made in Montana or a cripple creek upstate, but then, you couldn’t wander into the Richard Rogers or the Met or Momofuku up there. Give some, take some.
J-Did and Meghan and so many others, including my grandfather (who still lives in the Ansonia of my mind, lawyering like a bulldog on the UWS, but in truth decamped to New Mexico in the ’50s), found the city to be untenable and unripe, too costly on both the wallet and the ego. Some people get to that point (I think these days, we all do more often than we want to admit), and when/if the pull is weighty enough, you’ll go without hesistation or fanfare. Paris abroad is a temporary fix (and as Doree said well, a privileged one that could be seen as an extension of the opportunities Jess derides), but if it provides perspective so that this girl—a good and succinct writer in her own right—can do work outside of the stream, great. I’m learning that most of the writing/art/craft I admire in this city is done in as much isolation as it would be in a swampland cabin, and then later deployed to the right audience. It sort of comes down to whether you’d like to see some theater and live with skyscrapers and experience the urban shuffle while you do the work. Professional community has always been the bugbear of the city—fleeting and thrilling, but never quite stable or supportive enough to curb that feeling of a long walk down an empty block. Real friends, real work, and small pleasures—that’s all this place, or anywhere, has to offer by way of a tonic. At least I think that’s so.