To find yourself, and fully appreciate where you are from, you sometimes have to move out of town.
This is less about a geographical move, I think, and more about the process of knowing yourself apart from everything you know, and everything that knows you.
It’s hard to sometimes understand the beauty and certainty of a time and place when you are in it, but retrospect can bring a clarity and beauty that is not easily forgotten.
In this same way, sometimes you have to lose someone – at least for a time – to realize how much you love them.
Jerry Weintraub was referring to this idea when he said:
“When you stood at the train station, waving good-bye, you did not understand what you were waving good-bye to—the world of your childhood dissolved behind you.“
Understand: Time changes everything.
But don’t make too big of a deal of this. I think you can gain a needed perspective in college, or even across town if the city is large enough.
You have to leave town to claim your life, to birth yourself, to take possession of the world. If you do not leave town, sooner or later, ten minutes from now if not ten years hence, you wake to find you were never alive, that your town exists against a nothing background. You have to leave your town before you can claim it—this is something my father and his friends came to realize in the fifties, when it seemed the entire borough was packing up and moving off. Dead or out of town. Dead or out. Out or dead of town. Dead town out of. And of course, years later, when they did try to come back, when they stood on the corner and closed their eyes, they realized the old town was gone, had died while they were off living their lives. Yet inside them they kept some of that old town, a world that existed once, exists still, at night, when they are dreaming. Dead or out of town. Well, the ones who stayed died with the town—only they don’t know it. The ones who left are different, too; they changed the way the town should have changed if all the other things had stayed the same. It reminds me of a series of paintings by the Italian artist Boccioni: Those Who Stayed; Those Who Left; The Farewells. On either side, faces are lost in a soup of color, the same yet different. But the middle is The Farewells, which are full of life, and the railroad clangs as a train whistles down the track. The departures are the main thing; the departures are your life.
-Rich Cohen, Tough Jews