In recent comments on MOB, my college friend Sarah, born and bred in Ohio, explained why she has lived in Massachusetts ever since we graduated.  She pondered what her life would’ve been like had she at least tried living in New York City, the epicenter of the advertising world…but her best apartment opportunity was in Boston.  And she has never left the state of Massachusetts since.  (Where she’s very happy, mind you).

Unlike Sarah, I did try living in New York City right out of college.  Lindsay and I scored a duplex sublet on the corner of Central Park West and 67th Street for $700/month.  We found that rent shocking at first but soon came to realize that it was an amazing bargain, even in 1980, for a two-bedroom, two-story fabulous old pre-war doorman building.  But the sublet came to an end when the owners returned from a summer in Greece, and on my measly salary of $11.5K from the textbooks division of McGraw Hill, I could afford nothing.  New York was way too big, and my income was way too small.

So I jumped to a safety position as an au paire in Washington DC, with room and board and use of the family car.  My income dropped to $30 a week.  My duties were to help with the two well-behaved kids from dinner time to bedtime.  The mom and the maid were with them all day, leaving me time to work at J. Walter Thompson Advertising by day, which means I had another small income – all of it disposable.   Washington was pleasant, but the town was too boring and small.

So then I moved to Philadelphia, where my college boyfriend was from.  The plan was that I would move there first, he would follow when he found a job, and we would get married.  His parents helped me find a great position in the Kalish & RIce ad agency, where I merited business cards.  I got a sweet studio apartment two blocks from my job in a lovely neighborhood, and we were all set.  Until my first day on the job, where I met this cute co-worker named Chris, and….that was the end of the grand plan with the college boyfriend.

After some attendant drama, Philadelphia, it turned out, was just right. 

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