(I’m writing something every day for #100days. This is post 50/100.)
I don’t know exactly where it started, but sometime late in high school I started dreaming about living my life in New York.
It took five years from that point to first set foot in the US. And ten years to make the move completely.
I landed for the first time in America on a frozen San Francisco New Year’s Day in 2005. On my first day, I bought the Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ from Rasputin Music, around the corner from my hostel. That album soundtracked my whole first trip through the US, most memorably, the 11 hours on the train through the Adirondacks from New York to Montreal.
On that first trip, we zig-zagged around — San Francisco, New York, Denver, Aspen, Portland, Seattle, Lewiston ID then finally LA (staying with friends in Compton, of all places).
In retrospect, we got lots wrong — staying in Union Square in SF, spending all of our time in NY around Times Square/Fifth Ave, taking too many Greyhound buses :| across the country, and wasting a day of breath in lines at Disneyland — but it didn’t matter. I was hooked.
I came back for three weeks in 2008 to attend SXSW, and spend some time in New York. I got New York right the second time, sleeping on my friend’s couch in an apartment that looked directly across at the Flatiron building.
But New York still seemed like a long way away. At that point, still deep into Law School, with Jules about to get into Medicine, I still couldn’t conceive of a pathway to my favourite city in the world.
But willing it seemed to make it be.
We Are Hunted launched with unexpected success in 2009, so when I cold-added my internet hero Zach Klein on Facebook, he replied warmly.
Two months later, I asked him if I could come and see what it was like to work with him at Boxee. I spent an awesome February in New York doing just that, and got offered a permanent position soon after.
Then, on May 15, 2010, I moved to New York, to America, finally realising a 10-year dream.
Since then,I’ve lived in New York and San Francisco, and been lucky to travel to all corners of the country — Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Texas, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina, Vermont, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
I feel like I’ve seen America at it’s best.
Yosemite, Yellowstone, the High Sierras, Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons, the Redwoods in Marin, Bend, Missoula, Martha’s Vineyard, the Washington Monument, Central Park, the East Village, Prospect Park & Prospect Heights, Barton Springs, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, Kailua Beach, Fort De Soto, and Aspen Snowmass.
And it’s not just those monuments, those natural wonders.
I still appreciate the little things.
Good service at restaurants, cheap rental cars, stores being always open, unlimited coffee refills, half & half, great cookies, cheap running shoes, fast internet speeds, 4G phone coverage, pizzas, burgers, locally-brewed beers, near-universal warmth and friendliness, pockets of hyper-urban-density and great city living, Whole Foods, unlimited sport all year-round (but especially the NBA, and the NFL), and all the comforts of living in the future.
But overwhelmingly, the hardest thing to contemplate living without is the concentration of brilliant, hard-working, good-hearted people I’ve been surrounded by in the places I’ve lived here.
From the very first week I moved to the US, it’s been a constant inundation of amazing new people. I was lucky, in that I started close to the centre, in New York with Zach, and got to ripple out from there.
Of course, I’ve drawn the most inspiration from the founders I’ve grown close to, but the beauty of ambition in America is that you can find the veins of gold whichever way you dig.
Nowhere harnesses ambition like America.
Nowhere forces you to question your limits like America.
Nowhere else lets you unashamedly declare your desire for greatness, and then offers you three introductions to people who might help you get there.
In America, you choose to go to the moon.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade, not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” — JFK
I’m not dismissing the collective paralysis in the face of gun-driven mass murder, the bankruptcy engine of healthcare, the minimum wage that doesn’t get you anywhere, or the wealth and race divides that violently persist.
But apart from the guns and the healthcare, most of America’s problems are not unique to America. They’re the universal problems that face modern societies. And if they’re going to be solved anywhere, America is the place to do it.
Read Justice Kennedy’s defence of marriage equality in the Supreme Court last week. America has led. The rest of the world will inevitably follow.
“In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.” — BO
Simply, I feel grateful every day to be here.
Grateful for the opportunities America has afforded me.
Thrilled at today and tomorrow and next week and the new people I’ll encounter, the new opportunities life here will bring.
I know I live in a little pocket of America that isn’t necessarily representative of the entire American experience.
But when I think about that little pocket, and I think about the whole world, there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now.
Happy 4th of July.