I once told myself, flush with being nineteen and living in Manhattan on my parents’ dime, that I was always, always, always going to live in New York – if, you know, I even deigned to stay in America at all. Three years later, I’m living in Iowa City with my law student boyfriend, and my weeks consists largely of: planting the seeds of Francophilia in a rowdy pack of preschoolers, writing about totalitarian art for my sole academic undertaking, making homemade pizza in a defiant attempt to bring thin crust to the Midwest, and blogging. And, of course, missing the city. (The city. A city. Any place with tall buildings, really.)

I know I’m not the only one. About half my friends stayed in New York after graduation, presumably to offer me couch space when I visit – but only half. Everyone else has followed job opportunities, graduate school, astronomically cheaper rent, or wanderlust around the country.

And I can’t think of a better present for us big apple expats than MoMA’s “New York in a Bag” set of wooden city structures. It includes the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, a fleet of taxi cabs. I’d perch mine atop the mantle (maybe next to the Christmas crèche?) – the place of honor that New York deserves, and which I’d never have if I actually lived there. It looks like there some pluses to leaving, after all!

An east coast native, Natalie graduated from New York University in 2009. She has been living in Iowa City, Iowa for the past four months, blogging all the while at Iowas Thinking .

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