Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Research: Part I

Confession: I don't like living in New York anymore.

I love the city. After thirteen years there, you don't have to tell me how much fun it can be, how beautiful it can be, and how certain opportunities and experiences exist only there. And of course, I have a lot of friends there.

But living there, well, that's another story. I find it draining and exhausting and stressful and inconvenient. I've been thinking a lot about moving back to the west coast, maybe even to Portland, where I grew up.

KR, frequent contributor to the comments on this blog, warned me to be careful that I wasn't suffering from "grass is greener" nostalgia. I suggested Portland had an unfair advantage, in that it actually has grass.

So, while on vacation, I have been putting Portland to the test. Of course one of the main advantages to being in New York is the huge gay community and the social opportunities. Portland has a few sad little bars along a grungy block downtown (affectionately referred to as "Vaseline Alley"); certainly nothing to compare to Hell's Kitchen or the East Village or Chelsea or the West Village. (I fantasize about opening a Therapy-style bar here.) On the other hand, UCLA recently ranked the five gayest cities in America, and New York ain't one of them. Portland is.

Admittedly, Monday is probably not the best night for evaluating Portland's gay nightlife. I stumbled into Silverado, where it happened to be karaoke night. It was such a friendly place! And there were actually some cute guys there. Some of the singers...oh, well...bless their hearts, they were having fun. Others were actually pretty good. The guys I was talking to (um, no one talks to me in bars in New York, unless they are drunk, creepy and old) were egging me on to throw my hat in the karaoke ring. I did the bashful thing for a while and then thought, what the hell. So, I sang "People." (Of course you did, says JWC.)

I felt bad; I suppose I should have mentioned that I'm not exactly an amateur, but people seemed genuinely impressed. The bar manager comped me a drink and I had several other offers. Since I was driving, I had to decline them, though. (Mark that in the "con" column. Of course, no one gives me free drinks in New York. Pro.) I followed up with Cole Porter's "Night and Day." The people who run the karaoke night told me what bar they'd be at tonight and asked me to come by. I met more people last night -- cute, friendly ones, at that! -- than I have in probably the past year in New York. Pro.

Con: you can smoke in bars in Portland. I forgot how awful that is. I came home stinking. Uch. But, I happened to see an article in a local paper this morning that they are trying to pass a smoking ban. Future pro!


Anonymous said...

there's no place like home.

Dagon said...

It was almost exactly this time last year when I was firming my resolve to leave NYC. Taking the packed train home in the cold to the hellish part of town where I could afford to live alone--I just couldn't imagine spending my 30s that way. I couldn't even bear to spend the rest of the winter that way.

When you're making your list of Pros about NYC, be sure to ask yourself, "Do I even care?"
I feel like I postponed leaving for a few years just out of some vague fear of missing something important and exciting that only NYC had to offer. Truth was that I was miserable and had long since ceased taking advantage of the great things NYC had to offer.

You sound ready.

Jade said...

I can't really speak to the gay community in Portland and what the nightlife might have to offer (I totally forgot about Vasaline Alley! Man, I haven't heard that in years!) but if you can find a hoppin' bar in Portland, more power to you! My last trip to Portland I had a night out on a Saturday and it just seemed overal dead-dead-dead. Maybe we were in the wrong bars? Not that I care much about a night life... but...

I thought of you when I was listening to NPR the other day, they were doing a big story about the theater troups in Seattle, and were saying that there are three major cities in the US for live theater... New York, Chicago, and Seattle. I know you went for opera and not really theater after high school, but my mind will forever link you to musicals.

Anyway... my point... I was wondering if you were still thinking about moving back to the west coast and if you'd considered the Seattle area? Speaking from experience... after spending some years in California near larger cities (San Jose & San Francisco) Portland shrank and although we wanted to go back to the Northwest, we felt like we'd done all we could with Portland. So... we moved a bit further north.

Just something to think about... it's not my ploy to get a gay best friend to teach me how to dress. Really. *grin*

Andy said...

Gino: you would quote Judy Garland.

Dagon: Oh yes, I'm ready. Lately I've been so unhappy in New York that I actually thought I was having mental problems and needed medication. Now I realize that was just New York. My checklist is more about Portland than New York, making sure that I'm not abandoning New York for a false green, liberal, pro-environmentally gay paradise.

Jade: I'm TOTALLY considering Seattle. One of the advantages to Portland is that all my family is here. One of the disadvantages is that all my family is here. : P The main attraction to Portland is that I know it so well, I know (roughly) where I'd want to live, and I have places I could stay until I get set up and people who could help me with things. Even better I think would be somewhere in California -- I would sure like that sunshine! But we'll just see what happens.

kr said...

I actually thought I was having mental problems and needed medication. Now I realize that was just New York.

Supporting my theory that a reasonable explanation for the (seemingly?) commonplace extreme drinking amongst Manhattanites is that they are self-medicating for the stress of living in Manhattan.

Now, I love Manhattan--but I decided the first day I could not successfully live there ;).

Smoking in bars: that fight is years old, but the all-powerful, reactionary Restaurant Lobby has been _gradually_ losing its grip. Perhaps now that the Democrats are in power there will be less obstructionism on this issue. Hopefully the newly-arrived Young Creatives here in Portland aren't paying enough political attention after the big election wins to stymie this one; they seem to think smoking adds to their artsiness ... yuck.

Andy said...

KR, I self-medicate with a cocktail daily. I really hardly ever actually get drunk, but often the first thing I do -- depending on how annoying the cats are about being fed -- is pour myself a little something to take the edge off. For me the trip home is usually a lot worse than the ride in. The nice thing about self-medicating is that I don't have to shell-out a $30 co-pay for every visit to the liquor store in addition to the meds.

kr said...

;). Not knocking on it--as I said in our email exchange several months ago, it's hard to imagine living there without it.

belledame222 said...

yeah, i hear you. I'm not ready to leave yet, but I anticipate that i will be sometime in the not too far off future. it is too hard in many ways. and i'm not an East Coast girl, weather-wise. Northern CA or maybe Seattle (or Vancouver?) for me, i think, eventually.

belledame222 said...

and actually i dunno if it's even NYC per se, fab as it can be, as that i'm simply not ready to -move.- i think i'd feel uprooted, and i'm not wanting that this year, at least.

Andy said...

New York is great, but I think I've just reached a point where I want something different. Really different. But yes, the prospect of moving and all of the complications and expenses related to that makes me have second thoughts. But then I have third thoughts.