Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.
This school year, while tutoring, I learned again about the founding of America and our expansion west. It was interesting revisit the basics about the Continental Congress and the Louisiana Purchase as an adult, with some understanding of how real America works. Basically, the “don’t tread on me” approach was there from the beginning. It’s also easy to forget that America was founded by and expanded on by risk takers, people willing and unafraid to make a go of it in a new place.
Until very recently, I wasn’t part of that American tradition. For a while, living in New York was enough. Every summer, I’d discover a new neighborhood, new people, or a new way of living that made my hometown feel unaccustomed.
But of course, there’s the cost of living in New York, the rats, the roommates, the wait for the subway, the men who cut you in line at Best Buy, the endless plan making, and then this: a feature in New York Magazine about the toast revolution going on this city. After growing up in the suburbs of New York, going to college on the Upper West Side, and living in Brooklyn for five years, I can’t get excited about having access to the best toast in the world. Even the only in New York moments, like happening upon a firework show on a friend’s rooftop, don’t move me anymore. I started to feel like I didn’t even know America. And by not settling in a new place, I felt like I was missing out on the quintessential American experience.
So for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is my American destiny, I’m leaving New York and settling out West. More about my American odyssey to come.
Jasper Johns, Three Flags