New York.

“So I went to New York City to be born again.”

– Kurt Vonnegut

I’m not sure exactly when it happened. It may have been catching up over drinks with a friend – who I met two years ago at a film festival in Alaska – in the crowded White Horse Tavern, yelling to be heard over the blaring jukebox, as she told me I was sitting in the chair rumored to be occupied by the ghost of Dylan Thomas. It may have been the historic old theatre I toured – one of many – during which the endearingly eccentric theatre manager regaled me with stories of past productions as we climbed rickety, dust-covered stairs into the rafters to look at her enormous inventory of lighting equipment. It may have been the afternoon I wandered through Washington Square Park daydreaming among tulip gardens, or the night I woke to the crackling of thunder and was treated to a magnificent lightning storm outside my seventh-floor window, or the number of coffees and lunches I shared with former Angelenos, all of whom told me what I already felt to be true: that their creativity and productivity had expanded tenfold since they’d moved to the opposite coast.

It may have even been that very first day, on my way into the city from JFK, the taxi cab snaking through traffic in the rain, crossing the Williamsburg Bridge and plunging into that glorious skyline of concrete and glass, all shiny and gritty and hopeful. But whenever it happened, all I know is that somewhere in the space of the week I spent in New York to visit theatres and research moving my play War Stories there, something within me shifted from “I think I could live here,” to “This is home.

Truth be told, I’d been feeling anxious about the trip right up until the moment I arrived. I don’t know a ton of people in New York. One of my oldest and dearest friends keeps a place there, but lately she’s been working mostly in California and wasn’t planning to be back in the city until the last two days of my visit. Other than her, most of my New York connections are soft:  actors and writers I know from L.A.; high school friends I haven’t seen much of – or at all – in years; people I’d never met but who were introduced to me through mutual friends. The week before I left, I reached out to everyone I could think of, most of whom responded with: “Call me when you get here and we’ll make a plan.” And so, on the bright, early morning I left L.A., I had very few appointments on my calendar, and no idea how this whole New York experiment was going to work out.

But as soon as I arrived, a funny thing happened:  everything fell into place. The emails and texts started rolling in. Could I come participate in a screenplay reading in Williamsburg? Yes. Meet for dinner? Yes. Coffee? Yes. Brunch? Yes. On my second morning in New York, an email came through from the owner of the theatre where I produce most of my work in L.A., telling me to call a friend of his who owns an Off-Broadway theatre in Midtown. He was expecting to hear from me, he said.

And on it went, all week, like a snowball rolling down a hill, gathering momentum, growing bigger, faster, stronger. I took three, four, five, meetings a day, and everywhere I went, I met lovely, hard-working, creative people. People who were engaged and interested and who seemed to genuinely want to help me. I couldn’t believe it. What was this myth I’d heard about New Yorkers being rude? That was certainly not my experience.

I should have been exhausted from all the scheduling, the emails and information exchanged, the city blocks covered on foot. But I wasn’t. I was energized. I was inspired. And it made me realize that this feeling was exactly what I’d been craving, exactly what I’d been missing these last few years in L.A. This is where I’m supposed to be, I thought. And before I left New York, I had made my decision. I was moving there.

I know that relocating won’t be easy. I know that New York can be a hard place to live, that the winters are cold and the summers are hot, that the apartments are tiny and expensive as hell and that the pace of the city can be exhausting. And I know that I still have a whole lot to figure out, like finding a job and a place to live. But I also know that the energy and excitement that I felt pulsing through my veins when I was there is something I can’t ignore. I know that last week, New York went from feeling like a near impossible dream to something that is very, very possible. And I know that if I’m serious about producing theatre there, then I need to be there. I need to spend the time to do it right, to develop a plan and a marketing strategy and do all the work that’s necessary to be taken seriously in a town where theatre is a serious business.

I moved to L.A. as a girl of eighteen, and I’ve now lived here – other than a brief stint in London and some extended stays back home in the Pacific Northwest – half of my life. I love L.A. and I know it won’t be easy to say goodbye. But the die has been cast. The decision has been made. And I’ve already begun to set the wheels in motion. And if all goes well, then by sometime this fall, I will be calling New York City home.

Until next time, friends.

45 thoughts on “New York.

  1. You were anxious, yet you went anyway. That’s faith over fear. Everything fell into place once you arrived there. That’s because, that’s where you were suppose to be. I believe that God already has a plan and when we listen and follow our hearts desire. Everything will fall into place. Faith Over Fear. Happy for you and proud of you. Good luck.

  2. We cannot ignore what pulses through our veins, what resonates as right, true, necessary. The cost of that kind of ignorance is too high, so much higher than the potential risk and anything we’ll owe to it. Loved this story. Stories are my jam. I’d tell you ‘best of luck’ but I don’t feel the need. You got this!

  3. I have chills. How exciting for you. The job and a place to live will come.
    There’s also a bit of sadness because everywhere I go feels like home to me and I would love to experience that sensation, of “this is it.” Savor that.

  4. EDM—I recently happened upon the term for what you described: social facilitation. I picked this up from one of the blogs that I follow called “Lady Writer” and in her post she describes the effects of social connection and its link to increased creativity (more peeps, more flow). So, in other words, New York makes perfect sense! XO DWD

  5. This is exactly what I’m hoping will happen for me when I chose a law school. I have no clue where it will be, I just know I want it to feel like where I should be. I’m so happy you’ve found that for yourself. All the best as you prepare for this next in your life. Please keep sharing! 😉😊

  6. It’s a spirit within us all called ‘freedom’ of which takes us to explore far off places and our future. It’s a transition’ from then’ unto this’ our present now’.

    ‘And here Sarah is a Quote from the late great Helen Keller / ~ Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. – Helen Keller. /

    At first I thought I was reading the lyrical story of a Tom Russell LP’ (Tom Russell Album: ‘Hot Walker’) (song: Old America /

    ‘Yes I do like your Style of writing even more so Sarah. And back to what you’ve writ’ “Ghosts’ indeed lurk in the past, of favorite haunts where many souls of curious women conversed and danced through the night on into the next.

    ‘Sure’ I read too much and then at times not enough, never taking my eye sight for granted. We all should sing as geese and larks, and observe people and places where Owls and ghost of old Theater rafters and Art Museums roost in high places until dusk, that’s when they are rudely out shown by bright city lights and their whispers and screeches are deafened by City horns of car, trains, boats, jazz band brass, corner soap box barkers’ and oh the sounds of Saxophones.

    ‘I hear the eating establishments have greater character standing than the Politicians of the day. And I have never read Dillon Thomas, should I?

    ‘They have Flower in New York City? And Cheese cake, now this could get interesting. Read you soon my friend. Brock.

  7. I’m from New York and I always defend Parisions when people say they’re rude. You know why? Because people say the same thing about New Yorkers and i know it isn’t true.

  8. Congratulations! You will be missed. Please keep your blog going about all of the excitement of theatre in the Big Apple. 🙂

    • You know I will, Melissa! A whole city filled with new places to write! But I’m not leaving yet – I’m going to direct a couple short plays (one of which I wrote) in L.A. this summer. I’ll be here for about three more months. xx

  9. This reminded me of the week I spent in LA circa 1997. When I went back to Chicago, I felt exactly how you described. I set things in motion, told everyone my plan that no one believed, then 6 months later, with a hard earned five grand in my pocket, threw everything I wanted into my Blazer and drove it to the valley. Within two days of arriving, I found an apartment and paid cash for my first and last months rent. And my adventure began. I learned this week, I’ve qualified for a SAG Pension. For acting. For being creative. For following my heart. I’m still in disbelief. I hadn’t been so moved since I paid to enter that union, after ten years of being eligible, and the desk clerk brought me to tears with the words “Welcome to SAG.” I dont know why I wrote this. But we care about you and wanted you to read it. I wish you the same magical memories, zany adventures, and monumental events in your journey. They are out there to be found. If you just walk the path.

  10. Your excitement about your move is invigorating! I say this as a person who moved across the country and found that this place does NOT make me feel the way you described, so I am seeking ways to change that, and considering another move, because I miss feeling in love with my city.

    Best of luck in your move. Remind yourself of this feeling when you have a tough day in NYC and I’m sure it will brighten your day.

    • Thank you so much! Good advice and very prescient, as I’m traveling to NY tomorrow to produce a reading of my play. I’m wishing you well! I hope you find what you’re looking for. ❤️

  11. This was a wonderful read, and we’re so excited for you! After visiting numerous times each year, we finally decided to move out here awhile back. It was a couple of weeks before Hurricane Sandy. That was certainly quite the intro, but we haven’t regretted the decision one bit. As your move progresses, feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Good luck!

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