A Tale Of Two Cities: If New York Destroys Your Soul, California Will Save It
Sometimes, without even realizing it, we are settling by staying in a place where we've been with the same people, talking in the same way and even thinking the same things.
You're comfortable; you think you can predict the next event, the rest of your day and the things around you. But, why? Must we always feel safe?
Maybe the ultimate way to shake things up is do something else in a new scene. What better way to do that than to experience two major such cities? The next big question is, LA or NYC?
Both are considered places where dreams manifest and come true. Whether populated with bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic or with sardine-packed bodies on the 6 train, these are places filled with endless opportunity.
New York, New York
This is the place where you will receive the most inspiration and discouragement all in one day. The most amazing people and opportunities are in this place; it's also where a pigeon once came and sat on my salt and pepper shakers at a patio café on 50th St.
This place is everything you want and don't want at the same time.
Here, an average walking pace becomes a light jog, and when walking three miles a day or turning the corner, you will always encounter something you could have never imagined.
Meeting new people consists of tourists, people who've relocated and the locals. Backpacking tourists are there to enjoy the scene; they stop your flow of traffic to extend their selfie sticks, trying to catch a taxi in the background.
People who moved there come from all over and for many different reasons, but their similar sense of ambition, adventure and courage make this a strong place. They also misunderstand New Yorkers and end up being intentionally, overly mean because they think that's how to fit in amongst the crowd.
Meeting locals will show you that it's not. They know this loud, rumbling, neurotic, ruthless and brilliant place well. They are incessant because to get anything done requires knowing what you want -- quickly or the opportunity slips. This may consist of yelling for bystanders to get the *bleep* out the way, but it's just because there's a subway to catch and work they can't be late for.
The beauty of changing neighborhoods cannot be found anywhere else. Start with some chicken and waffles in the Lower East Side, and within in 30 minutes of heading north, you'll be among the Jackie Kennedy-dressed Upper East Side housewives walking their Yorkies on a Louis Vuitton leash.
Enter Midtown for the bright lights of Times Square and Rockefeller to inspire you, then arrive at clusters of bars and dining in East Village. Make a turn to shop in SoHo, bargain in Chinatown or learn something from the NYU kids.
Walk further to where it smells like cash, caviar and cocaine on Wall St. Then, the 9/11 Memorial will take your breath away. Afterwards, you still have four other boroughs to explore.
Get parking tickets in LA, sun-kissed in San Diego, do the four-hour drive to Vegas and art walks in San Francisco. People are beautiful and relaxed because everything flows like the Santa Monica beach waves.
Things can get Hollywood and superficial in Southern California; I've never seen more Maseratis and butterfly-door Lambos in a Costco parking garage.
California definitely knows how to party, and the forecast is always comfortable. Imagine sandals and summer night vibes in the middle of December; there will never be a white Christmas, however. A friend once grabbed my snow brush and asked why I had a big toothbrush in the car.
Then, there's Northern California with the Bay Area and Sacramento, where there is no pressure to be any type of way. Ride the BART and strike up a conversation with a hippie in Berkeley, hakuna matata style.
Maybe it's the foggy climate that makes San Francisco a romantic place. Surround yourself with the innovative minds of Menlo Park, home of Google and Facebook.
Walk the Bay Bridge or go on a breathtaking hike. Access to any type of nature in California is easier than anywhere else. Explore Sacramento, where you can go to the mountains of Tahoe and the Pacific Ocean in one day. Overlook LA after a hike up Runyon Canyon or roller skate the Venice boardwalk.
There is something worth experiencing for every 20-something in these amazing, ridiculous, inspiring cities. They give the best and the worst, but it's always the most.
For every wanderer trying finding his or her place, personally, I didn't know the world until I went to New York, and I didn't know myself until I went to California.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It