Horns endlessly blaring horns.
Five bucks for a coffee.
Eight $ for a sandwich.
Trains that change their schedules every day.
Cabs that are never available.
People fucking everywhere.
Concrete is ugly.
And it’s fucking everywhere.
Welcome to New York, the greatest city in the world.
I have lived here for eight years. Before that I was in Los Angeles, before that Chicago, before that London, before that Paris. Big ass cities, all of them. And while I love big ass cities, the energy of them, the cultural sophistication of them, the food, the shops, the people, the opportunities, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of leaving. Just sell everything and go. Find a sweet little town and live a simpler life. Sit in my kitchen and look out across my yard and smile and think about whether I want to go for a walk on an empty road or go work in the garden. Fuck, a garden. Right now I look across the street and see a giant red brick building that’s an electrical supply warehouse and a thirty story half-built condo building. The idea of ditching it is incredibly tempting. Every time I’m out of the city I look at the local real estate listings. I could have a palace somewhere else. Or just a wonderful, and relatively normal, house for literally a twentieth of what my wife and I paid for our apartment in the city. Our kids could go to a lovely, and free, public school. They could play in the street with their pals and spend the summer swimming in a lake or a pond. It’s a wonderful thought, but my wife will never leave the city, so it’s never going to happen. I’ve learned not to mind the view. The rest of it is what it is. Life in the 21st century urban landscape. Woohoo.
Four or so years ago, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, my daughter’s godfather, a cross-dressing writer and adman, was over at our apartment. We had ordered dinner, though I don’t remember what, most likely either pizza or Chinese food, and we were waiting for it to arrive. He, like me, dreamed of getting out of the city, and we often talked about it. Using my computer, he brought up a real estate listing of a farm in upstate New York. It was a impressive place. Big white farmhouse with white columns and a gigantic porch. A couple hundred acres of land. A Barn. A pond. A pool. A crypt, which I thought was weird and creepy, but he thought was cool. I asked where it was and he said a small town about four hours away. I asked if he had seen it and he said yes. I asked if he was going to buy it and he said he was gonna try. Brent, his partner, showed up while we were talking about the farm, which was so fancy, it even had a name: The Beekman Estate. I asked Brent if he wanted it as badly as Josh. At the time, Brent was a hotshot doctor who was working for Martha Stewart. He laughed and said you and Josh can go live there, I like the city, and he walked away. He, along with my wife, was used to me and Josh cooking up half-baked schemes to get out of the city. Little did Brent know that this one was going to become a reality (and a reality show!!!). Little did he know that this one was going to become their life.
Six months later they owned the farm. A couple months after that and we were there for Thanksgiving. Josh decapitated a turkey, which we ate for dinner. I bought them a couple guns at Walmart and we blew some cans to pieces and tried to blast some pigeons that lived in their barn (we didn’t get any of them). Six months after that they started talking about making the farm their life, leaving their jobs, moving their fulltime. They started making soap, and then cheese. The soap smelled great, and the cheese just smelled, though they corrected that and now make something very tasty. When they said they were going to try and make the farm their fulltime residence, and were going to ditch the city for good, I was thrilled for them, and very jealous. I wanted to walk around in the mud all day. To have to worry about my goats and pigs and llamas. To know everybody in town and gossip about them at the local gas station. To have a Walmart and a gun and bunch of pesky birds to rid of. The crypt freaked me out, but fuck, I’d take it if it got me everything else.
And so it begins. The show about their move, their transformation into farmers of some kind, and the drive to support themselves with the products they make at the farm. I haven’t seen it, but knowing them, I can imagine the laughs involved, the drama, the fights, and the love that they share, and will share with us. If it captures half of who they are as I know them, it’s going to be great. And if it lasts until season two, and if they’ll have me, I may move up there and join them. I’ll clean out the goat pens, or feed the pigs. Aside from being a writer, I’m not qualified to do anything else. Until then, I’ll watch the show and see what it’s actually like on that farm on an average day. And after each week’s episode, I’ll write a round-up, and mark on a scale whether what I’ve seen makes me more or less likely to move up there. For even as many of us in the city dream of leaving of it, and changing our lives, and simplifying them, I suspect the reality, or not, is something very different. Thanks in advance to Josh and Brent for trying it first. And for allowing me, and everyone else in the world who is going to watch the show, which I hope is a very large group, to see how you do it. Woohoo, woohoo.