How to Leave Cities

Originally written for DUM DUM Zine

First things first, be:

(a) homesick,
(b) dissatisfied,
(c) desperate,
(d) unemployed,
(e) all of the above.

Decide, whether or not this is actually true, that your set of friends, family, peers, and opportunities in a shiny
new city will fix this ugly assortment of problems/state of being/identity crisis. But mainly, believe that your
current city of residence is the only thing to blame for this necessary repair. Stream at least one season of any Joss Whedon show on Netflix while idly drafting “quirky” and “idiosyncratic” cover letters.

Assess apartment before moving. Notice that between Shoebox-sized Room in Bushwick Loft Venue and Chicago Art Grad Apartment, you’ve managed to accumulate a lifetime worth of shit you didn’t need and couldn’t afford. Discoveries abound, including cigarette butts and Post-it origami left behind by an intolerable ex. Devolve into navel gazing before you realize moving away might be less like sunshine and more like sticking Band-Aid on puncture wound from stepping on sewing needle stuck under bamboo rug that wouldn’t stop gushing blood for 20 minutes. In short, impossible.

Enact a semblance of spring cleaning. Instead of throwing shitty clothes away, try assembling them into a renegade art project. Fail.

Clean some more. Freak out about there being so much shit to do. Realize you’re about to tip over to the second half of being a 20-something, give yourself that line about needing to get your shit together already, then promptly forgive yourself because you’re only 25. Tell yourself without believing that moving to another city will, without error, ensure the success of every single project you’ll ever think up. Do so while downing a tallboy beer.

Feel like an utter douche for trying to adapt a Dylan song into a play. Smoke. Think about your friends and the bands you never started, and realize there will always be an abundance of douchebags you’ll love hanging out with in another city. Realize the things you have to look forward to are the unanswered resumes you’ve sent out and a Google Document entitled “L.A. Collective.”

Gaze and ponder intermittently outside of a window like ScarJo in Lost in Translation. Wonder how quickly you will recreate the environment you’ve nested in this particular city and fall into old patterns. Play familiar montages of escapism from teen dramas in your head and consider staying. Grieve briefly, realizing no matter where you live, you will always be homesick for something or someone.

Leave preemptively. Have emergency surgery due to an inch of a sewing needle that got stuck in the pad of your foot, even though you were unaware of its presence for four days.

Anticipate waiting patiently for feelings to fade and new ones to prosper. Learn in this process how disaffected you aren’t. Feel like an asshole for acting like an entitled, faithless city dweller.

Recognize that all the people you met with interesting habits and spaces and lives aren’t replaceable, but will have echoes, kind of like your former selves from previous cities.

Realize the Internet can solve half your problems.

Remember the last time you left a city.