Twenty years ago, Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich wrote a hypothetical graduation speech, later made famous by Baz Luhrmann, offering advice to the class of ‘97 as they ventured into the unknown territory of adulthood. In addition to simple, but smart, suggestions like “wear sunscreen” and “dance,” the column contained two lines of advice about living in two places — New York and Northern California — advice my dad repeated to me after my own college graduation four years ago, when I was moving to San Francisco from Atlanta.
“You know what they say,” he offered with a smile, half encouraging me to go, and half warning me not to stay too long. “‘Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.’”
Last month, I left San Francisco for New York, and while painfully cliché, I’ve been thinking of Schmich’s words (by way of my dad) ever since I boarded the plane at SFO. After three years in San Francisco, I was ready for the struggle of a new city, and the triumph of emerging from that struggle.