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I have lived in Manhattan for 20-years. Something I am realizing, which is unique to New York City, is that the people interact with one another in a far greater way than any other city I know. They walk all over the place on crowded sidewalks or take packed subways. They also see one another daily in apartment building elevators.
However, in the rest of the country, even in big cities, cars and houses isolate people. I am in small New Albany, Ohio and have never once seen any of my relatives just by chance even though they live near me. The “town” is a joke. It’s a Starbucks and some restaurants. It is not a communal place at all.
Come to think of it, when I grew up in even more remote rural cornfield Ohio, I never interacted with anyone unless it was at school. My parents have no local friends to speak of.
I am getting no ideas here in New Albany. I used to walk around Lower Manhattan and see stuff that triggered thoughts. If I moved to LA, it would be no better. People drive everywhere and hide in houses just like they do in New Albany.
This black abyss of anonymity and obscurity is what scares New Yorkers from leaving, and why they pay the high cost of living. When I joke to New York friends to move to Ohio, they scream, “No”
Don’t get me wrong. Almost anywhere else other than New York City is a better place to have a house, raise kids, and enjoy the outdoors. But if one needs intellectual stimulation, one needs to travel quite often unless they live in New York (There was a time after 2008 that I did not leave Manhattan for years except by train to DC).
So, if you are the #1 golfer in the world, Jason Day, rock legend Eric Clapton, or Dave Chappelle, all of whom live near me, then your quiet Ohio family life is nice. But for most people not fortunate enough to travel or have multiple homes, living outside of New York is mentally grueling.