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Saturday, August 8, 1998
By Paul Ford
I Never Left My Heart There
New York or San Francisco are the only real options in the interactive marketing industry. Chrysler or Transamerica, Bagel or Avacado, Brooklyn or Golden Gate. Silicon Alley or the Golden Coast. My friends, the greater percentage of them artists, illustrators, writers, and designers, choose one or the other, and mostly choose San Francisco.
For the past year I've wondered about moving, throwing most of my clothes away, sailing out on a plane. Learning the BART system, the buses, the cable cars, stumbling up the hills. No reason; it's only somewhere else, another group of web folk, another job like this one. A different ocean.
Last night I dreamt of it. I was in a boat, sailing below the Golden Gate. The water glowed, fog rolled, and the movie sped up to doubletime. The skyline sparking with light, rising before the prow like a pop-up from a kid's book. A city with a history, stories about the calm bay, the fog, and the great fire.
I woke and shaved, scrubbed my face with a dull disposable, special care to get between the chin and lower lip, crimped the last of the toothpaste from the tube, dressed in musty clothes, and skulked to the street. Then up again, 90.5 feet of escalators and stairs, the highest station in New York City.
The day was bright as an apple, and over the harbor I saw the Statue of Liberty, a cliche in copper, the great green source for a million logos. Too familiar, she doesn't inspire me, but I respect her inspiration for the Tianamen protesters, for the waves of immigrants begging their way into minimum wage, the people who wish they were somewhere else. The Staten Island Ferry rolled through the harbor, bright as an orange and out of reach. A pretty woman asked how to switch to the N or the R.
The F rattled the platform; the door bells rang, and the train absorbed its straphangers. Inside and air-conditioned, I grasped a greasy rung and watched the harbor. We descended underground to Carroll Street. In twenty minutes, I was shuttled to my desk.
I have the things I need within the city, the people, the possibilities, and the profits. The change I need is in the mirror, so this month, I'll see the dentist, tailor, doctor, therapist, personal trainer, accountant, and barber. I can stay inside the five boroughs, on the right side of the country.